Following the acquittal that Senate Republicans secured for President Donald Trump at the end of his recent impeachment trial, he’s been apparently emboldened. This past week, he seemed to publicly propose yet another quid pro quo, this time involving Democratic state officials in New York. As if, in his assessment of the world, anything remotely targeting him is by default bad and terrible, he seemed to suggest on Twitter shortly before a meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that if the state dropped investigations into and lawsuits against him, he might restore certain expedited travel privileges to New York residents.
Previously, his administration had kicked New York residents out of “Global Entry, a program which allows participants to avoid long customs lines, and the other Trusted Traveler programs that allow participants to use shorter lines at airports and border crossings,” Salon explains. (One similar program, TSA Precheck, was apparently not affected, for now.) The stated reasoning was the state’s opening up of drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants, but if Trump was willing to drop the whole charade just in response to dropped investigations, was it ever really about anything other than politics? Besides, some have already noted that other states have similar programs for undocumented immigrants but have not been targeted similarly. Trump’s feuded with New York officials in particular for awhile.
Unsurprisingly, those New York officials indicated that they had absolutely no intention to seriously consider the president’s public apparent quid pro quo proposal.
In direct response to Trump’s Twitter post in question, New York Attorney General Letitia James shared her own public statement on the platform, reading:
‘When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down. 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.’
When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down.
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. https://t.co/tsOLeEgiQp
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) February 13, 2020
Cuomo himself had already suggested that a lawsuit over the travel restrictions could be on the horizon and insisted of the policy change:
‘This is unbounded arrogance, disrespect of the rule of law, hyper-political government and this is another form of extortion. This is what Trump did with Ukraine. This is the ethos of his federal government.’
A couple of the Democratic members of Congress who’d served as impeachment case managers publicly spoke out against Trump’s latest development in the situation. In direct response to the president’s quid pro quo-suggesting tweet, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) shared:
‘Dear @SenateGOP, This is what another quid pro quo by the President of the United States looks like.’
This is what another quid pro quo by the President of the United States looks like. 👇 https://t.co/7E4PbxevBG
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) February 13, 2020
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fl.) added:
‘As we predicted, the president is now expanding his abuse of power to blackmailing U.S. states (threatening millions of people he supposedly works for). In this case, he’s holding New York state hostage to try to stop investigations into his prior tax fraud.’
As we predicted, the president is now expanding his abuse of power to blackmailing U.S. states (threatening millions of people he supposedly works for).
In this case, he's holding New York state hostage to try to stop investigations into his prior tax fraud. https://t.co/dZKhhVhMZd
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) February 13, 2020
Will Congressional Republicans be moved to act? Probably not. Trump’s assertion that he could shoot someone and not lose support is probably quite on point. For now, Cuomo says that if the state can’t manage some kind of equitable negotiated agreement with the White House, then they’ll file a lawsuit.