Trump vs. N.Y.: Fact-Checking His Claims of ‘Harassment’ by the State

ALBANY — For two consecutive days, President Trump turned his Twitter fury against two of the highest elected officials in his home state: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the attorney general, Letitia James, both Democrats.

It was not immediately clear what prompted Mr. Trump to lash out; his tweets on Monday focused on his treatment by Ms. James’s office. Without mentioning Ms. James by name, the president said she was “harassing all of my New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible.”

Mr. Trump continued his tirade on Tuesday, suggesting that New York’s tax rate was driving away residents “like never before.”

The outburst prompted a return of fire from Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday, who issued a statement entitled, “President Trump’s Day 2 Twitter Tantrum,” saying Mr. Trump was in “la la land.”

“If he is worried about law enforcement, he shouldn’t break the law,” Mr. Cuomo said in the statement. “If he is worried about New York taxes, he should repeal the New York tax penalty called SALT that he and Republicans passed, which targeted New York and raised our taxes by $15 billion.”

But was the president wrong? Here’s an assessment on the veracity of Mr. Trump’s tweets.

What was said

It is very hard and expensive to live in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo uses his Attorney General as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes.

It is expensive to live in New York City, but far less so in less populated areas of the state.

Unlike the nation’s attorney general, who is appointed by the president, the New York attorney general is an elected position.

And although Mr. Cuomo endorsed Ms. James in last year’s election and helped her campaign raise money, he emphasized that her office was distinctly separate.

“His suggestion that it’s my attorney general is just incorrect,” Mr. Cuomo said, before adding that “if he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to worry about.”

“But,” the governor concluded, “I think the tweet shows that his paranoia is once again getting the better of him.”

Ms. James also hit back on Twitter on Monday, telling Mr. Trump that “no one is above the law,” and highlighting that the president had not used her name. “My name is Letitia James,” she wrote.

What was said

I even got sued on a Foundation which took Zero rent & expenses & gave away more money than it had.

The New York attorney general’s office sued Mr. Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, last year, accusing it of “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations.”

The charity’s tax filings show that it did incur more expenses than the revenue it took in. But the attorney general’s lawsuit said that some of the foundation’s funds were not used for charitable purposes, but were instead used to settle legal claims involving Mr. Trump’s businesses, or to pay for a painting of Mr. Trump. The foundation was also effectively “co-opted” by Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, the suit said.

Mr. Trump has admitted to using the foundation’s money to contribute to political causes.

And while the filings do not show expenses for rent, the attorney general said the foundation had no employees, and its board had not met since 1999.

In December, the foundation agreed to dissolve. But the attorney general’s office said the suit would continue to move forward.

What was said

Going on for years, originally brought by Crooked Hillary’s Campaign Chair, A.G. Eric Schneiderman, until forced to resign for abuse against women. They never even looked at the disgusting Clinton Foundation.

The investigation into Mr. Trump’s foundation was started by the former New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, in 2016. Mr. Schneiderman resigned in 2018 after The New Yorker published allegations from four women who said that he had physically assaulted them.

Mr. Schneiderman had previously said that allegations about misconduct by the Clinton Foundation did not rise to the level of an investigation, because they largely amounted to paperwork issues.

“We’re not in a position to check that out and enforce it. We leave that to our federal counterparts,” he told Politico in 2016.

What was said

People are fleeing New York like never before. If they own a business, they are twice as likely to flee. And if they are a victim of harassment by the A.G. of the state, like what they are doing to our great NRA, which I think will move quickly to Texas, where they are loved, Texas will defend them and indemnify them against political harassment by New York State and Governor Cuomo.

While the population in some regions of upstate has declined or remained stagnant for decades, the overall population of the state has actually slightly increased during the last eight years of Mr. Cuomo’s administration, according to the United States Census Bureau.

And while Republican politicians, like Rick Scott, the former governor of Florida, have bragged about drawing business south — sometimes even sending thank you notes to northern-state leaders — Mr. Cuomo recently announced record high private sector employment in New York, though much of that is in the city and its suburbs.

As for harassment, President Trump seems to be referring to a running legal skirmish between the Cuomo administration and the National Rifle Association, which the governor has called an “extremist group.” Last year, the association filed a lawsuit against the governor and a state agency saying New York’s efforts to end a so-called carry guard insurance policy and other efforts had cost it “millions of dollars.”

Ms. James’s office has also opened an investigation into the gun group’s tax-exempt status, and has confirmed that it has issued subpoenas in the matter. The N.R.A., however, is not based in New York; its headquarters is in Virginia. Ms. James has special jurisdiction over the group because it was chartered in New York.

What was said

So many people are leaving New York for Texas and Florida that it is totally under siege. First New York taxes you too high, then they sue you, just to complete the job.

New Yorkers have contributed to a major inflow to Florida, but Californians are much more likely to move to Texas. Still, Mr. Cuomo has warned of the lure of Texas and other low-tax states, saying that his state is in competition for jobs and talent, and noting that he has held the line on taxes in New York.

And while New York does have some of the highest property and income taxes in the nation, Mr. Cuomo railed against the 2017 Trump tax overhaul, particular a cap on the state and local income tax deduction, which the governor has called “an economic missile” aimed at the residents of the state, particular those with valuable properties and high incomes who pay a large share of the total amount of taxes.

Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday said the president was wrong about New York’s taxes.

“I lowered taxes in New York. Trump raised them,” the governor said in a statement. “Try the truth for a change, Mr. President.”

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email [email protected]

Source: NYT

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