U.S. President Donald Trump has embarked on a new attack on Democratic-led cities he considers “anarchist jurisdictions,” ordering top officials to determine whether the national government can cut federal aid to the municipalities.In a memo Wednesday, Trump directed the White House Office of Management and Budget to offer guidance to federal agencies on cutting funding to cities that “defund” their police departments after weeks of urban protests targeting Trump and police abuse of minorities.“My Administration will not allow Federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” the president’s memo states. “It is imperative that the Federal Government review the use of Federal funds by jurisdictions that permit anarchy, violence, and destruction in America’s cities.”FILE – U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks to reporters about the ongoing protests in the wake of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, July 28, 2020.In addition, Trump ordered Attorney General William Barr to produce a list of localities the Department of Justice considers to be “anarchist jurisdictions” and make it public.Trump has claimed there is a widespread effort by Democratic mayors of some of America’s largest cities to defund their police departments, but most have rejected the idea while in some cases saying they want to partially cut police funding in favor of providing more money for community-based social funding to curb crime.The president’s action, two months before his November re-election contest against his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, is part of his campaign effort to cast himself as a “law and order” candidate and claim that Biden, if elected, would countenance urban turmoil..Biden has adamantly rejected the president’s assertions about him and says he wants to increase funding to train police officers for the various roles they play in dealing with the public.In a speech earlier this week, Biden said, “Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really? I want to save America.”Trump specifically called for a review of federal funding that goes to Portland, Oregon, his birthplace city of New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C — all places where protests have erupted this summer against Trump and police treatment of minorities.Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought speaks during a television interview at the White House, Feb.10, 2020 in Washington.Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought said in a statement: “We are taking action by exploring all options to ensure Federal resources flowing to lawless cities aren’t being squandered. The lack of law and order surrounding these riots, and response from local leadership, is a dereliction of duty.”The demonstrations were first spawned by the May 25 death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But the protests evolved into a broader concern about racial injustice in the United States.The U.S. government sends billions of dollars annually to municipal governments, including aid for transportation projects, housing, law enforcement and numerous other programs.Any attempt at cutting such aid could draw a legal challenge from the affected cities. Congress approves such funding, but administration officials can attempt to cancel certain projects.FILE – Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to people gathered in downtown Portland, Ore., July 22, 2020.One staunch Trump critic, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, said, “This is a new low, even for this president. He continues to believe that disenfranchising people living in this country to advance his petty grudges is an effective political strategy. The rest of us know it is dangerous, destructive, and divisive.”Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, said on Twitter, “As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand. This has nothing to do with ‘law and order.’ This is a racist campaign stunt out of the Oval Office to attack millions of people of color.”During his three-and-a-half-year presidency, Trump, with mixed results, also has tried to curb federal funding to what he describes as “sanctuary cities” — municipalities where officials have vowed to not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies trying to detain and eventually deport undocumented migrants, most of them crossing the border from Mexico.One appeals court ruled that the Trump Administration was within its rights to withhold some funds, but three other appellate courts ruled against the administration, saying it did not have such authority.

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