De Blasio, Cuomo Push Back on Trump’s Comments After Terrorist Attack

The president's inflammatory tweets were "not helpful," Cuomo said Wednesday.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a href="">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio at an emergency briefing on a terror attack in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday evening. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In the aftermath of a terrorist attack by an Uzbek immigrant in Lower Manhattan that claimed eight lives, Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized President Trump for attempting to limit immigration to the United States on the basis of religion or country of origin.

Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant who came to the United States in 2010, is suspected of using a rented pickup truck to mow down a crowd of pedestrians and bicylists in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday, killing eight and injuring 11 in the deadliest terror strike in New York City since 9/11, according to city and NYPD officials.
Trump said that he ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up its “already Extreme Vetting program” and noted that Saipov came into the United States through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. He called it a “Chuck Schumer beauty.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was the lead sponsor of a 1990 bill that included the lottery system when he was in the House and it was subsequently put into another immigration bill co-sponsored by him and House Republicans. But in 2013, he was among a group of bipartisan lawmakers who wanted to scrap that visa program as part of a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws. That bill passed the Senate but died in the Republican-controlled House.
De Blasio said that he supports vetting individuals applying to immigrate to the United States, but not special scrutiny for groups of people “just because they belong to a group.”

“I think this is a very crucial distinction,” he said. “There should be very, very careful vetting of anyone where there’s an indication of a concern but not because of their religion or not because of their country of origin.”

He reiterated that people should be focused on working together and the incident itself.

“This should be a unity moment where the focus is on solving the crime and figuring out how we can move forward together, not the pointing of fingers,” de Blasio continued.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for his part, said that Trump’s tweets were “not helpful.”

“I think they tended to point fingers and politicize the situation,” Cuomo said. “He was referring back to an immigration policy that dealt with a lottery and blaming people who passed that immigration policy. His tweet wasn’t even accurate as far as I’m concerned. That was a bipartisan law that was passed that had basically no relevance to the facts of this situation.”

He said that people “play into the hands of a terrorist” to the extent that they “disrupt and divide and frighten people in this society.”

“The tone now should be the exact opposite by all officials on all levels,” he continued. “This is about unification. This is about solidarity. This is about normalization. This is about protection. And the last thing it’s about is politics, period.”

After the briefing, de Blasio said that he and Trump spoke just after 3 p.m. for about five minutes. Trump also said that he spoke with the governor.

According to a federal criminal complaint released Wednesday, the FBI said that when law enforcement agents interviewed Saipov, he “requested to display ISIS’ flag in his hospital room and stated that he felt good about what he had done.”

John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said Wednesday that it “isn’t about Islam” or about “what mosque he attends.”

“There are hundreds of thousands law-abiding Muslims in New York City who are adversely affected by things like this and it’s probably a good time to say we have seen in the aftermath of incidents like this bias incidents, hate crimes, assaults,” Miller said. “As has been said here before it is a time to come together and to not confuse this terrorist act with any broad brush against a religion or a particular institution.”

There are tens of thousands of Uzbek immigrants who live in Brooklyn and the greater New York City metropolitan area, city officials said.
Police recovered multiple knives in and around the vehicle, a paintball gun and a pellet gun. Saipov was transported to Bellevue Hospital. Miller said Saipov had been planning the attack for a number of weeks “in the name of ISIS” and they recovered some notes “that further indicate that.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that six people were pronounced dead at the scene and two were pronounced dead at the hospital: five from Argentina, one from Germany and two Americans. Of the 12 who were injured, three were released and five remain in the hospital. The injuries range from a bilateral amputation to serious head trauma.


De Blasio, Cuomo Push Back on Trump’s Comments After Terrorist Attack