April 14, 2023
Don Lemon: Former President Donald Trump back in New York City, sitting for a deposition as part of a civil case brought by New York State against the former president. Some of his children and his sprawling business empire as well. So on his way to the New York Attorney General's Office, his motorcade went past a handful of anti-Trump protestors. Watch this.
Video: New York hates you. New York hates you. New York...
Lemon: So on Monday, Trump's allies in Congress are visiting the City. House judiciary chairman, Jim Jordan, will lead a field hearing in Manhattan that targets District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The hearing is apparently intended to suggest that Bragg cares more about prosecuting Trump than Manhattan's crime rate. So the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, joins me now to discuss this and more.
Mayor, I'm going to get to that in just a second. If we can just go back to yesterday, Trump was here in New York testifying in this case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. He has called James and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg racists. A Black DA, a Black AG in a city where there is a Black mayor. Your thoughts on this rhetoric as it relates to them?
Mayor Eric Adams: Well, I think it's typical rhetoric that normally comes from the former president. And Attorney General James has been clear on a number of really unprecedented cases that she has faced, even the recent settlement dealing with the Juul cigarettes targeting young people. So she has been extremely focused. She stated from the onset that she was going to investigate this case to its fullest and she's not going to allow a distraction of any form of terms or rhetoric being used to take her off that course.
Lemon: All right. Let's talk about what's going to happen next week. The House Judiciary Committee is holding a field hearing here in New York on Monday led by Jim Jordan. He's saying that the hearing will examine how the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg's pro-crime, anti-victim policies have led to an increase in violent crime and dangerous communities for New York City residents. What is your response to that, Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Adams: I just view it as, this is simply an in-kind donation or contribution to the Trump campaign. This is really ridiculous, particularly when you're doing analysis of the congressional district of Jim Jordan. You'll see that crime is actually higher in his district per capita.
New York City crime is really trending in the right direction. Shootings are down, homicides are down. We're going up to the seven majors. If anything, he should be in a conversation with Police Commissioner Sewell to find out what we're doing here. But this is really a charade and it's just unfortunate, during a time like this, they will use taxpayers dollars to host this charade.
Lemon: And we did look at the numbers in Jim Jordan's district, and you're right about that, it's higher than here per capita. Listen, Jim Jordan would say and has said that he's making the same point that you made last year, Mr. Mayor, when you lashed out at prosecutors and judges for cutting loose suspected shooters. This is what you said. Just a reminder and then I'll get your response. Here it is.
Mayor Adams: No one takes criminal justice seriously anymore. These bad guys no longer take them seriously. They believe our criminal justice system is a laughing stock of our entire country.
Lemon: Would you agree that Jim Jordan is making a similar point as you or do you think this is just a deflection?
Mayor Adams: Well, I think, first of all, yes, it's a deflection and as you noticed I say country, that includes his district. And I believe the real analysis that he should be doing right now is why do we have a Republican Party that continues to allow the over-proliferation of guns in inner cities, cities like Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and others.
When you look at this gun violence, one of the aspects of it is that we clearly have too many guns in the hands of people who are dangerous in this city. And I am extremely clear that we must go after those who we consider to be extreme recidivism who commit crimes over and over again. And those bad guys are not taking the criminal justice system across this country in a very serious way.
Lemon: Well, we have the crime stats up because the city did record a drop in murders and shootings overall last year. But overall, are you concerned that crime, the crime index, remained flat? It didn't go up, didn't go down, it remained flat. Is that a concern for you?
Mayor Adams: No, we're moving in the right direction. I stated that we implemented several plans from our Subway Safety Plan to the plan around going after illegal guns. When you look at the thousands of guns we removed off our streets last year and this year, including those ghost guns. And we're using every dam possible to dam the river of violence, both proactive responses and reactive responses.
And the men and women of the New York City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies are doing an unbelievable job, when we look at how we're trending in the right direction. Our subway system is getting safer every day. Customer satisfactory surveys is showing that people are feeling more and more comfortable back on the system and we know that we're turning around an ocean liner of violence that is really pervasive throughout the country, but we're trending in the right direction.
Lemon: You mentioned other big cities in your previous answer and I wonder if you're worried about the perception that cities like San Francisco are dangerous and crime riddled? Because data shows violent crime, especially homicides, are well below that of many other cities of similar size, like Chicago or Atlanta. Do you have a view on why San Francisco has this reputation or even in places like Chicago or Philadelphia or here, how concerned are you about this perception that cities like New York are dangerous?
Mayor Adams: Well, we should be clear that New York City is the safest big city in America, and that is often lost when you see a dangerous act highlighted. That's one of the issues. And I believe, and I've always stated, that public safety is feeling safe and actually being safe. And I'm not going to insult New Yorkers, or no American should be insulted, to believe that if they don't feel safe, we should just dismiss their concerns.
My job as mayor is to make sure New Yorkers and visitors feel safe in our city, and we're doing that. We're doing that every day. But there is a real concern across America about some of the violence that we are seeing and how our criminal justice system must move in the right direction. And that includes being proactive; some of the things we're doing, like dyslexia screening. 40 percent of our inmates have dyslexia, so we're screening all of our children for dyslexia.
Lemon: Yeah. And you're talking about being proactive. We had a little fun with it, but this is actually serious stuff and can potentially be really good for the city. This week you unveiled three new robots, including a robotic dog and you say that the NYPD would use to ensure New Yorker's safety. Your predecessor, Bill de Blasio, that cut this city contract for the robotic dog, his spokesperson saying at the time that it was creepy and alienating and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers. How are you going to use this new technology, mayor?
Mayor Adams: Well, first, let's be clear. New York City Police Department, we have always been pioneers in new technology. Everything from fingerprinting, to use DNA examination, to using our 911 system. All of these technologies when they are first introduced, people are sort of leery about change.
We're going to use the robotic dogs when there's a building collapse when there is a dangerous armed suspect inside a building. We're going to use it in ways that will protect the lives of New Yorkers and responding police officers and other personnel. It's not going to be used, at this time, on routine patrol or anything of that manner. We're going to use it on extremely dangerous situations, to detect a bomb. New York City is still a terrorist threat. If one wants to believe that or not, it's still a reality. And so I have stated on the campaign trail and as mayor, I'm going to search throughout the entire globe on technology that will keep New Yorkers safe.
Lemon: When I had you here in January, I asked you about the rat czar. You have now appointed a rat czar. How exactly does that work? What does that job entail, Mr. Mayor?
Mayor Adams: You know, and think about it, Don, imagine waking up and seeing a rat scurry across your floor, open one of your kitchen cabinets and seeing a rat come out, or even in your car. Rodents impact on our health, our quality of life, and our mental psyche. You'll think about that rat the entire day. That's why we took our time, received a substantial number of applicants and now this new rat czar is going to coordinate all of our efforts.
We had great work from men and women in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene as well as the Department of Parks, Department of Sanitation, but they were operating in silos. We are going to bring them all together and have one person coordinate all the efforts.
There's this amazing young lady, at 10-years-old, she did the petition on her block to get rid of rodents when she was a child. Now she's ready to take it to the big league of New York City and get these pesty rodents under control.
Lemon: We covered a lot of territory from the former president, to a field hearing from someone in Congress, to robots, and now a rat czar. Mayor Eric Adams, thank you so much. We appreciate you appearing.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Take care, Don.
Lemon: You as well.