KEY POINTS

  • New York City will join Seattle and Portland, in filing a lawsuit over President Trump's threat to withdraw federal funds from cities that permit “anarchy," city officials said Thursday
  • The Trump administration last month identified New York City, Portland, and Seattle as three cities that could have federal funding reduced under a memorandum by the president
  • Up to $12 billion in federal funds could be stripped from particular cities

New York City will join Seattle and Portland in filing a lawsuit over President Trump's threat to withdraw federal funds from cities that permit “anarchy," city officials said Thursday.

“In a couple of hours in Seattle we will file a complaint that is pushing back on and seeks the court’s judgment on the Trump administration’s decisions to withhold funding from cities that they have without cause and without law determined to be anarchist cities,” New York City Corporation Counsel Jim Johnson said.

The Trump administration last month identified New York City, Portland, and Seattle as three cities that could have federal funding reduced under a memorandum by the president that identified locations that permit “anarchy, violence, and destruction in American cities.”

Officials in all three cities were quick to criticize Trump's memorandum at the time. “I said weeks ago if the Trump administration persisted in trying to illegally take away funding from New York City we would take them to court, and we will beat them in court,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

Johnson argued that the cities are acting now because the government began to take concrete steps to withhold funds. “They’ve actually taken this anarchist designation and started to include it in applications for federal grants,” Johnson said.

Up to $12 billion in federal funds could be stripped from the cities.

The Justice Department said the three cities were designated as “anarchist” jurisdictions because they met criteria including “whether a jurisdiction forbids the police force from intervening to restore order amid widespread or sustained violence or destruction” and whether the city “disempowers or defunds police departments.”

“What we’ve seen from President Trump threatening funding for New York City and other cities, it’s morally wrong, it’s legally unacceptable, it’s unconstitutional,” De Blasio said. “And we’re going to fight it.”