UPDATE 1-Trump's threat to defund cities 'unconstitutional,' mayors say

WASHINGTON, Sept 3- Mayors of major U.S. cities on Thursday blasted President Donald Trump’s threat to cut federal funding to cities facing ongoing protests as a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and New York state said it would challenge any move to defund the city in court. The mayors of Washington, Portland, Seattle and New York City- who were singled out in the…

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, Sept 3 (Reuters) – Mayors of major U.S. citieson Thursday blasted President Donald Trump’s threat to cutfederal funding to cities facing ongoing protests as a violationof the U.S. Constitution, and New York state said it wouldchallenge any move to defund the city in court.

Trump on Wednesday instructed Attorney General William Barrto develop a list of “anarchist jurisdictions” that “permittedviolence and the destruction of property … and have refused toundertake reasonable measures” to restore order.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors said the order had no legalstanding, and would make cities less safe by slashing resourcesfor police and first responders.

“This effort is intended only to inflame tensions and divideus. It is without merit, and it would hurt the people that apresident is entrusted to protect,” said the group’s CEO TomCochran.The mayors of Washington, Portland, Seattle and New York City- who were singled out in the Trump memo – condemned the action.

“We are confronting unprecedented challenges — fighting backa pandemic and economic devastation without another stimulus.Now, instead of leadership from the White House, we are facedwith new attacks that are unlawful, unconstitutional and will beundoubtedly defeated in court,” they wrote in a joint statement.

New York City was ready to take immediate legal action ifthe White House attempts to defund the city, Attorney GeneralLetitia James said in a Thursday statement.

“The president is not a dictator and his efforts attyrannical rule will be met with fierce opposition,” she said.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shot backmoments later during a briefing: “She’s free to do that. Webelieve that what we will do will be lawful.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Twitter called ita “foolish stunt” and said the president “ought to be focused ongetting our country out of the COVID crisis.”

In May, a federal appeals court blocked Trump’s attempt todefund “sanctuary cities.”

In that case, the judge ruled that the issues were a matterof state discretion. Policing and law enforcement are also areasregulated by states and local jurisdictions, not the federalgovernment.(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Sarah N. Lynch and Tim Ahmann;Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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