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Black Lives Matter protesters march through a downtown street in Seattle, June 14. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

New York City, Portland and Seattle sued the Trump administration on Thursday over its threat to withdraw federal funding after the Justice Department designated the cities as "anarchist jurisdictions" for their handling of protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: In an effort to help his re-election bid, President Trump has tried to paint himself as a "president of law and order," arguing that Democratic-led cities have seen "crazy violence" since the start of nationwide demonstrations this summer.

The big picture: The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington challenges a memo Trump issued last month threatening to pull federal funding from jurisdictions that "permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities (anarchist jurisdictions)."

  • The cities argue that Congress, not the executive branch, has the power to impose conditions on federal funding,
    • "No act of Congress gives the Attorney General the authority to designate cities as 'anarchist jurisdictions' from which federal funding may be withheld," the lawsuit says.
  • The cities add that Attorney General Bill Barr based his designation "on an arbitrary and capricious list of misleading and cherry-picked bullet-points about each City that in no way supports the assertion that the Cities have chosen to abandon their jurisdictions to lawlessness and violence."

The bottom line: The cities could lose funding for nearly 200 "programs that serve their poorest, sickest residents after the president moved last month to restrict funding, escalating his political battle against liberal cities he’s sought to use as a campaign foil," Politico first reported on Tuesday.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Scoop: Amazon Fresh eyes multiple Twin Cities locations

An Amazon Fresh store in California. Photo: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Amazon is planning a big entry into the Twin Cities grocery market beyond just the Burnsville store we told you about on Tuesday.

What's happening: Amazon also wants to bring checkout-free Fresh stores to Eagan Town Centre and a former JCPenney store in Coon Rapids' Riverdale Village, Nick confirmed with his sources.

DOJ seizes 36 U.S. website domains for Iranian government disinformation

Iran's President-Elect Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at Shahid Beheshti conference hall in Tehran on Monday. Photo: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

American officials seized 36 news website domains linked to Iran's government for spreading disinformation as part of a propaganda campaign, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The action comes at a time of heightened tension between the two countries, with Iran's hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Monday ruling out negotiating over missiles or meeting with President Biden as the two nations hold talks on returning Tehran to the 2015 nuclear deal.

NYT: Khashoggi's killers had paramilitary training in U.S.

A vigil for journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, following his killing in 2018 in Turkey. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Several Saudis who took part in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi had paramilitary training in the U.S. under a State Department contract a year before his 2018 death, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Why it matters: While there's no evidence the department knew that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sanctioned Saudi officials to detain, kidnap and torture dissidents in 2017, the approval of such training underscores how "intensely intertwined" the U.S. has become with a nation known for human rights abuses, per the NYT.