November 16, 2016
Mayor Bill de Blasio: I just met with President-elect Trump. The purpose of the meeting was for me to assert to him the concerns and the needs of all New Yorkers. My job as Mayor is to be their voice and to give him perspective on what New Yorkers are feeling right now, what their concerns are, what their fears are. I thought it was very important, particularly as the President-elect begins his transition, for him to hear the voices of the people and to get some perspective from outside the transition bubble to understand what is being said in the streets and subways of our city and why people are so deeply concerned.
I raised a number of substantive issues. I want to give you a sense of what they were. I will say at the outset, I’m not going to characterize his positions or responses, but I will give you a sense of what we talked about.
First of all, we talked about regulation of Wall Street. I raised my concerns about any repeal of the Dodd-Frank bill and what it would do in terms of furthering the economic security of New Yorkers and of millions and millions of Americans, and the deep concern that we would go backwards and that our economy would be in peril again and we would run the risk of another crash. I talked to him about the proposal for tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations. I raised my concern that this would make impossible many of the changes that we need in our country, particularly the investments we so desperately need in infrastructure here in New York City and in cities and counties all over the country. I talked to him about concerns about proposed deportations. I gave him the perspective of the NYPD – that any initiative that would create a rift between our police, all over the country, and the communities they serve – that would make it impossible for police and community to communicate, and that it would – so, distrust between law enforcement and neighborhoods would be counterproductive. Beyond that, that proposal countered and flew in the face of all that was great about New York City, the ultimate city of immigrants, a place that has succeeded because it was open for everyone, a place built a generation after generation of immigrants. And I reiterated to him that this city and so many cities around the country will do all we can to protect our residents and to make sure that families are not torn apart. I talked to him about police-community relations in general and specifically the question of stop and frisk. I tried to provide perspective on how stop and frisk can create a wedge between police and community when it was used in an unconstitutional manner – it was overused – and how since we changed that policy the City had gotten safer. That we – we knew we were never going back to that policy – that we were going to continue on a path of neighborhood policing and building a bond between police and community. I talked to him about our Muslim community. I let him know something that so many people don’t know – that there are 900 Muslim members of the NYPD, protecting all of us, protecting every community, every kind of person.
I told him that we were very concerned that we had to show all New Yorkers, including Muslim New Yorkers, that they were welcome and that exclusionary policies would undermine our ability to create unity. Exclusionary policies would undermine our ability to create a dynamic where everyone felt a part of this community equally, ready to work to protect each other, ready to work with law enforcement for the good of all. I also raised concerns about some of the messages and some of the rhetoric that for so many people had been hurtful. And I let him know that so many New Yorkers were fearful and that more had to be done to show that this country can heal, that people be respected.
I left the meeting with the door open for more dialogue. It’s well-known we have very, very substantial differences in beliefs and ideology, but, at the end of the meeting, we agreed that this was a conversation that would continue. I reiterated to the President-elect that I would be open minded as we continue substantive discussions, but I would also be vigilant. And I would be swift to react anytime an action is taken that will undermine the people of New York City. I also know that New Yorkers will stand together. We’re going to stand up for the needs of working people. We’re going to stand up for our immigrant brothers and sisters. We’re going to stand up for anyone who because of any policy is excluded or affronted, be they members of the Muslim community, or the Jewish community, members of the LGBT community, women – anyone who feels policies are being undertaken that undermine them.
With that, I am happy to take your questions.
Mayor: Let me say on the first point – I’ll come back to you on the second point. No, this was a respectful meeting, and a substantive meeting, and a very candid meeting. I don’t think lecturing is at all the right word to use. I told him what I believed and I told him what I was hearing from my fellow New Yorkers. And –
Mayor: – Just let me finish, because I’m going to go back there of the second part. And there was a give and take, but my job is to make crystal clear what is happening out there in the City. And I said on Wednesday, even though I have very real differences with the President-elect, he is a New Yorker. I do think he loves this city, but I thought it was very important for him to hear what people are feeling and very important for him to hear what our experience has been. For example, on an issue like stop and frisk – how getting away from that policy actually made us safer or from him to know that we have 900 Muslim-American NYPD members. Those were important facts – that’s not lecturing, that’s giving perspective.
Mayor: Well, look, I –
Mayor: Okay, let me say – I got your question. I got your question. I will not tell you that Gucci and Tiffany are my central concerns in life, but I will say the traffic situation is a very real problem and it is magnified, of course, because we’re going into the holidays. Commissioner O’Neill and I will address this issue on Friday. We’ll have a press conference to talk about this in detail. The Commissioner is meeting with the Secret Service shortly and will be in a much better position to give you a sense of the balance that we will strike. Obviously, traffic in Midtown has to flow and obviously the President-elect and his entire team have to be protected. I will say, one thing I can – I can say, that I feel very comfortable saying is that he expressed his appreciation for the men and women of the NYPD who have been playing such a central role in the security here and I expressed to him how proud I was of them and what a great job I thought they were doing. That was certainly an area of unity.
Question: Mr. Mayor, I was wondering how [inaudible]. Did you start off with an apology? [Inaudible] said I regret the things I said about you? Did he say, I regret –
Mayor: No – neither.
Question: So, what happened? How did you break –
Mayor: Again, it was a candid meeting.
Mayor: Well, we had spoken on the phone the other day and so if there was a breaking of the ice it was that. I think even people who have very real differences can still have a dialogue. It was a candid and substantive meeting. We just went right into the substance. I had a set of things I wanted to raise and we just went right into it.
Question: [Inaudible] the things that you were telling him are sort of opposite from the policies that he [inaudible] during the campaign. Did you get a sense that he was listening to you and that he would take your advice [inaudible]?
Mayor: Look, I’m not going to – Marcia, I’m not going to assume based on one meeting what the outcomes will be. It was important to have the meeting to assert the interest of the people in New York City and to give them that perspective. Where it goes from here will tell us a lot. I’ve certainly made clear that I am open to a dialogue, but, no, nothing about people’s fundamental beliefs changed in the meeting, obviously. It remains to be seen. Look, the ball is in his court. People in this city and all over the country are looking to see what he is going to do. I thought it was important he heard the people’s perspective.
Mayor: Hold on.
Mayor: Okay, I will talk about the IDNYC database in the coming days. Look, I obviously supported another candidate and she won the popular vote substantially, as we all now know. But my job, as Mayor of New York City, is to work with the President-elect while maintaining very clearly my beliefs and what I think is in the interest of the people of this City. There still has to be a dialogue under any situation. It was a 62 minute meeting. So, clearly there was a lot of give and take, but the proof will be in the pudding.
Andrew, Andrew, Andrew.
Mayor: I made my views clear and my deep concerns about Mr. Bannon and the fact that I thought many people were afraid because of the things they had seen in Breitbart news and the fear they had that that suggested divisive policies. So, I’ve made those views clear.
Mayor: Again, I made my views clear about him.
Go ahead – First, David, go ahead.
Mayor: He did not talk about his plans and it is too soon to tell. We have to see how things proceed. This was the first meeting.
Mayor: Again, I’m not going to characterize his position. I want to respect the President-elect. He’ll choose to say whatever he chooses to say. I expressed to him that I knew we had very real philosophical differences, but that I was ready to work on these issues and to represent the needs of the people of New York City, but I wanted to do it from a perspective of saying, let me put my cards on the table, not only about what I believe, but what the interest are of my city, what people’s needs are, what their fears are. I wanted to start the relationship by being crystal clear and very blunt about those. And it was a candid dialogue and a substantive dialogue.
Go ahead – go ahead.
Mayor: I think that the – we’ve had a problem with anti-Semitism. As you know, I’ve talked about previously – well before this campaign – and we’ve seen a rise in anti-Semitism, certainly in other parts of the world, and we’ve seen a worrisome increase in some parts of this country as well. Part of why I think it’s so important to remind the President-elect and his team that there are deep fears and concerns out there is because the wrong messages can encourage hateful acts. So, I certainly made clear that I think sending a message of unity is crucial.
Question: Mayor de Blasio, do you think that there’s any common ground that you and Donald Trump can find [inaudible]?
Mayor: As I said, the – on economic issues, I said on Wednesday, and infrastructure is the most obvious. I can simultaneously have my own beliefs and my own concerns, but be ready to work with the President-elect on the issue of infrastructure because it would have a hugely positive impact on millions of New Yorkers, and hopefully put a lot of people back to work. So, that’s one area where if these plans are consistent – it’s certainly an area where we’re going to try to work together. But, again, I think the right way to start a relationship is to put your cards on the table and all of these other concerns are being felt by New Yorkers very deeply right now. I tried to express to him how much fear there is, how much fear there is in communities all over this city. A whole range of people in the biggest city in the country who are fearful about this current dynamic and how we need to see things that will give people more assurance that all New Yorkers and all Americans will be respected.
Question: Mr. Mayor, Donald Trump is [inaudible] yesterday and go out to dinner. Do you think that’s [inaudible] or do you think that’s his right [inaudible]?
Mayor: I think for a long time we’ve seen presidents in office go to restaurants either planned or on the spur of the moment. I think it’s something that the Secret Service knows how to accommodate.
Two more – go ahead.
Question: Did you say anything to him about [inaudible] Giuliani –
Mayor: Did not – no.
Mayor: Oh, absolutely. I don’t think there should be tax cuts for the wealthy. I don’t think there should be tax cuts for big corporations. I think this election was in so many ways about economics and people all over the country are hurting economically who are angry at the status quo, angry at the elites in Washington. They were in many ways saying they didn’t want to see more trade policies that sent American jobs overseas. They were saying they didn’t want to see the one-percent continue to get more and more wealth and power. Well, if there’s tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations, that will fly in the face of that real anger that American people feel and I think that’s something that is going to be very, very carefully watched by people.
Mayor: Again, if there is a proposal that American corporations should get tax cuts and wealthy individuals get tax cuts, I will obviously oppose that, because I don’t think we have tax fairness right now. Believe we need the wealthy to pay their fair share. I believe corporations have to pay the taxes they’re not paying us now and we have to stop giving tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas. These issues – to the core of your question, I want to emphasize how closely watched this is going to be not only by me and by New Yorkers, but so many of the people who voted for the President-elect who are expecting economic change.