New York attorney general Letitia “Tish” James has a lot on her plate just now. Sadly none of it has anything to do with fighting the surging crime throughout the state and the nation’s largest city. Instead James has her sights narrowly set on a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump and his family.
She even found the time last week to fire off a tweet angrily complaining that a Yankees game was not being broadcast live. Clearly keeping New Yorkers safe is not on James’s agenda.
In fairness, James’s persecution of the Trump clan is a campaign promise kept. On the night she won the AG race in 2018 she told her adoring crowd that, “I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.” Prior to this she had said she would be “taking on President Trump and looking at all the violations of law” which she characterized as “no match to what I have seen in my lifetime.” This is basically the top law enforcement official in the state saying, “You give the man, Donald Trump, and I’ll find a crime.”
But like so many before her, while traversing the long mountain range of investigations into the 45th president since he descended the golden escalator seven years ago, James has not found a crime. She has barely even found a credible civil lawsuit.
Let’s face it, after Russiagate, two impeachments, a Southern District of New York investigation and media scrutiny dialed up to eleven, James’s revelation that Trump allegedly misvalued a few properties isn’t a smoking gun. It’s more like a leaky squirt gun.
Meanwhile, as James obsesses over a Florida businessman who holds no political office, crime is surging in the city she swore to protect. In July of this year the crime rate rose 31 percent over July 2021, with murder up 34 percent. All jokes aside, Donald Trump isn’t shooting anyone on Fifth Avenue or anywhere in the city. Maybe James could spare a few moments to worry the people who are?
Some of James’s defenders on the left claim that the crime problem is being exaggerated. They post lovely pictures of Central Park and say, “looks fine to me.” But just because the well-off are safe in their Ubers from Park Slope homes to Union Square cafes, that doesn’t allay the valid concerns of most New Yorkers. In fact, 70 percent are concerned about rising crime according to polling. Mayor Eric Adams tried to play this card early in his tenure, downplaying subway crime, only to have the card thrown back in his face until he finally admitted that even he didn’t feel safe in the city’s subterranean tunnels.
Speaking of Mayor Adams, at least Hizzoner is opposed to New York’s horrible bail reform laws that have turned our criminal justice system into a deadly turnstile that sets loose dangerous criminal after dangerous criminal. It has become so de rigueur that every time news of a heinous crime is reported, New Yorkers just naturally expect the next thing they will hear is, “the suspect has been arrested twenty-seven times and was awaiting trial.” That’s just how it is these days thanks to James and her ilk.
The Trump-chasing attorney general was not only a huge proponent of these deadly and broken laws when she was in the state assembly; she still supports them. She twists statistics like a losing gambler trying to convince himself he is actually up for the weekend, when everyone in the state, including many in her own party, understand that the soft-on-crime approach is fast rendering the city and state deeply unsafe for its citizens.
James is up for reelection in November. She is heavily favored over upstate attorney Michael Henry, who is the GOP nominee. But like Lee Zeldin, the man running for governor at the top of the ticket against Kathy Hochul, Henry has wisely gone all-in on the crime issue. With that governor’s race tightening, it’s just possible that Henry can ratchet up the pressure on James.
New Yorkers need to decide what their priorities are here. Do they want the endless greyhound race, chasing the Trump rabbit as crime spreads like wildfire? Or do they want effective leadership, working with police and prosecutors to put away dangerous criminals who threaten lives and livelihoods in New York?
Give it rest with Trump, Tish. Leave that to Liz Cheney and the other Ahabs in Washington DC chasing their great orange whale. New York needs law enforcement, not political vendettas — and we absolutely need it right now.