-- As a number of high-profile Republicans and allies of President-elect Donald Trump make their way in and out of Trump Tower to meet with Trump and the transition committee, an unanticipated figure stopped by the Fifth Avenue skyscraper today -- Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio, a progressive who campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and spoke at the party's convention in July, met with Trump for an hour, sharing the “fears” and “concerns” of New Yorkers with the next president.
“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's being said in the streets and subways of our city and why people are so deeply concerned,” said de Blasio at a news conference following the meeting.
The mayor ran through a long list of issues he addressed with Trump, including “regulations on Wall Street,” “the Dodd-Frank bill,” “tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations,” “proposed deportations,” “police-community relations,” and “some of [Trump’s] rhetoric that for so many people had been hurtful.”
While noting his disagreements with Trump, de Blasio said he did indicate a willingness to work cooperatively, provided he could continue to advocate for New Yorkers.
“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, what I think is in the interests of the people in the city,” de Blasio said.
Asked by reporters about the tone of their conversation, de Blasio pushed back on implications that his visit with the president-elect was intended to be a lecture.
“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,” de Blasio said. “I told him what I believed.”
“For example, on an issue like stop and frisk, how getting away from that policy actually made us safer or for him to know we have 900 Muslim-American NYPD members,” de Blasio added. “Those are important facts. That's not lecturing. That's giving perspective.”
The meeting, which was not previously announced by the president-elect’s team, came as a surprise given Trump and de Blasio’s testy history. In November 2015, de Blasio called Trump a “blowhard” for his comments about the Muslim community and said that Trump was “play[ing] right into ISIS’s hands.”
Trump responded on Twitter, writing, “Can you believe the worst Mayor in the U.S., & probably the worst Mayor in the history of #NYC, @BilldeBlasio, just called me a blow hard!”
“@BilldeBlasio should focus on running #NYC & all of the problems that he has caused with his ineptitude, & not be so focused on me!” added Trump.
Upon de Blasio’s election in 2013, Trump actually had kind words for the Democrat.
“I think pretty strongly that he’ll end up being a good mayor, maybe a very good mayor,” said Trump in an interview with a New York radio station. “I think he’s a smart guy that knows what’s going on really big league. ... I think he is going to want to make New York great.”
Today, de Blasio did report that he and Trump were able to come to agreement on one issue, their appreciation for the NYPD.
“He expressed his appreciation for the men and women of the NYPD that 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,” de Blasio said. “That was certainly an area of unity.”