Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was met with an icy reception from Democratic lawmakers during a visit to the solidly blue Big Apple Thursday.
The House’s top Republican came to the city that never sleeps to hold a roundtable conversation with local GOP lawmakers and members of law enforcement on criminal justice policies and elected officials they see as “soft on crime,” which they say is responsible for the city’s current crime wave. They include the state legislature’s 2019 reforms to New York’s cash bail system, the election of progressive prosecutors like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and calls for cutting police department budgets – often referred to as “defund the police.”
“We’re fortunate in 96 days to set a new path for the direction of this country, there will be no longer talk about defunding the police, we’ll be talking about funding the police” McCarthy told reporters after the roundtable. “We’ve watched so many challenges and watched crime continue to rise with this no cash bail, which you talked about on the discovery and others. And just the revolving door. But it’s happening across the country, all these Democrat run cities. We’re watching homicide at new levels. Robbery. Rapes continue to rise. There isn’t one person in America that doesn’t want to feel safe in their streets.”
McCarthy could very well become House Speaker again, if Republicans manage to retake the House majority this November.
McCarthy was joined by U.S. Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island, Brooklyn), Assembly Member Colin Schmitt (R-Hudson Valley), Republican candidates for the 3rd and 4th Congressional Districts George Santos and Anthony D’Esposito and GOP lieutenant governor nominee Alison Esposito.
Soon after McCarthy’s planned trip to the city became public, prominent New York Democrats including Governor Kathy Hochul and 10th Congressional District candidates Dan Goldman – counsel in the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump – and City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) were quick to rebuke his visit.
Jerrel Harvey – a campaign spokesperson for Hochul, who’s currently running for a full term as governor against Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk County) – issued a statement saying McCarthy can’t say he supports law enforcement considering he voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s because the vote took place hours after a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists – inspired by the false notion that Trump actually won the election – stormed Capitol Hill to overturn the election in favor of the former president, which resulted in the deaths of five Capitol Police officers and left 140 others injured.
“Kevin McCarthy and his fellow MAGA Republican Lee Zeldin are nothing more than insurrection apologists. The notion that McCarthy and Zeldin support law enforcement has been thoroughly debunked by their actions on Jan. 6 and thereafter. With more than 140 officers injured during the attempted coup and five officer deaths subsequently linked to the riot inspired by Trump’s Big Lie, their hypocrisy of standing with law enforcement is glaring,” Harvey said in the statement.
“And when given the chance to stand up for Capitol Police officers who defended our democracy, McCarthy and Zeldin instead chose to defend their leader, voting against the certification of the election results and attempting to obstruct the formation of the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee,” he added.
In response to a reporter’s question about Harvey’s statement, McCarthy hit back, saying the governor didn’t take decisive action to bring charges against a man who attacked Zeldin on the campaign trail in Monroe County late last month. He also called on Hochul to recall progressive prosecutors who’ve committed to not charging people for certain low-level offenses.
“I would simply say to the governor, get rid of the prosecutors that won’t uphold the law. You have the power to do it, do it today,” McCarthy said. “Why did you wait so long? Why did you encourage people to go after an Alison [Esposito] or a Lee [Zeldin]? Why didn’t you stand up for them, the very moment that they attacked Lee on stage? Why didn’t you say that was wrong? Why didn’t you say that person should be held in jail?”
Hochul never encouraged anyone to attack Zeldin and Tweeted a statement a few hours after the incident denouncing Zeldin’s attacker and saying she was relieved the suspect was in custody.
McCarthy’s referring to the fact that David Jakubonis, the man accused of attacking Zeldin, was released the next morning because Monroe County District Sandra Doorley – a Zeldin ally who was once listed as one of his campaign co-chairs – didn’t charge him with a bail eligible crime. Jakubonis was rearrested on federal charges of assaulting a member of congress with a deadly weapon two days after the incident and is currently being held without bail.
Goldman set up with some of his campaign surrogates outside the Detectives’ Endowment Association (DEA), where the roundtable was held, to protest McCarthy’s visit. Before the roundtable, Goldman told PoliticsNY he thinks McCarthy has no grounds to come to the city and speak about law and order considering he’s defied a subpoena to testify in front of the House committee investigating Jan. 6.
“I think it is amazingly hypocritical for Kevin McCarthy to show up in New York City talking about law and order when he has refused to comply with a lawful subpoena from the January 6 committee,” Goldman said. “if he is going to come to New York City and talk about law and order, then he should abide by his own claims and his own assertions and arguments and show up and testify before the Jan. 6 committee.”