- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 13, 2020

New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Capitol Hill Democrats accused President Trump on Thursday of trying to pressure the Empire State to back off personal investigations of him in exchange for better treatment from his administration.

They levied the accusation after Mr. Trump told New York to stop its “harassment” ahead of a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about Homeland Security’s decision to ban his state’s residents from using trusted traveler programs.

“When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down,” Ms. James wrote on Twitter. “Until then, we have a duty and responsibility to defend the Constitution and the rule of law. BTW, I file the lawsuits, not the Governor.”

Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Cuomo didn’t result in a resolution, though both sides are still talking.

At issue is New York’s new sanctuary law that grants driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, and bans two key federal immigration agencies from accessing the state’s motor vehicle bureau records.

Homeland Security officials have said that without access to those records, they can’t perform checks of DUI or other serious traffic offenses, which are requirements for being admitted into Global Entry or other trusted traveler programs that help speed people through airports and border crossings.

Mr. Cuomo left the White House for the airport without talking to reporters, though Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf issued a statement saying they’ll try to find a way forward.

“The relationship between New York State and the federal government is very important but has been made difficult by the unilateral actions of New York State regarding the sharing of critical security information with DHS,” he said. “New York is the only state that restricts [Customs and Border Protection] access to their data across the board — from law enforcement, customs, trade and travel facilitation purposes. Despite that, we will continue discussions with the state of New York to find a mutually agreeable solution.”

The meeting was overshadowed in part by the presidential tweet that set the stage for the tête-à-tête.

“I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment [sic], start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Ms. James in Albany is subpoenaing financial records from Mr. Trump’s orbit and secured a $2 million settlement from his since-closed charitable foundation, so she detected a nefarious undertone in the tweet.

Likewise Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat who led the impeachment effort against Mr. Trump, said the president’s tweeted warning smacked of the kind of behavior he warned senators about before they opted to acquit Mr. Trump.

Trump abused his power to coerce Ukraine into announcing investigations for his personal benefit by freezing military aid. Now, he’s using his powers to coerce states to stop investigations into him and his businesses,” Mr. Schiff tweeted. “Different corrupt purpose, same corrupt President.”

Also Thursday, Mr. Trump used a derogatory nickname for Mr. Cuomo’s brother, Chris Cuomo, who works at CNN.

“Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!” the president tweeted, referring to the not-so-sharp Corleone brother from the “Godfather” films.

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