A Mayor Walks Into Trump Tower. A Circus Follows.

[What you need to know to start the day: Get New York Today in your inbox.]

Inside Trump Tower, at the foot of a set of escalators in the marble-lined lobby, Mayor Bill de Blasio was nearly ready to begin a news conference on Monday, when the first of many signs of trouble could be heard.

Seven minutes before Mr. de Blasio was to speak, the lobby’s sound speakers suddenly sprung to life. It was Tony Bennett. “Because of You.” “Rags to Riches.” And other gems, all delivered at peak volume.

Mr. de Blasio showed up at 12:04 p.m. A group of activists and city workers chanted, “Our planet. Not your profit.” He stood at a lectern bearing a sign that said “NYC Green New Deal.”

Behind him was another set of other signs — “Worst Mayor Ever,” “Failed Mayor” and “Trump 2020” — that a group of seven men and a woman held aloft, riding up and down the escalators in view of the cameras, as they booed and whistled and heckled and catcalled.

The ostensible reason that Mr. de Blasio was in Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan was to promote a new city law that aims to force building owners — like Mr. Trump, for example — to curb their energy use as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to combat climate change.

Mr. Trump, of course, denies that climate change is a problem and has taken numerous steps to halt or curb government efforts to confront it. Which makes him a good foil for any one of nearly two dozen Democratic candidates for president.

Mr. de Blasio, for the record, is not yet one of those candidates, despite holding an event that bore all the earmarks of a campaign event. He said on Monday that he had not yet made a decision and will consult with his family at least one more time before he makes his announcement some time this week.

That meant that his event in Trump Tower was technically a news conference, and not a campaign event. Either way, it was a circus.

Even though he had a microphone and a sound system, Mr. de Blasio had to shout to be heard over the music of Mr. Bennett and the hecklers. After a few minutes, he was hoarse and he could barely get out the ritual “few words in Spanish” with which he invariably ends his public statements.

“Clearly the Trump Organization is a little sensitive to the fact that we are calling them out for what they are doing to the climate,” Mr. de Blasio shouted over the din. He pointed at a poster that said that if Trump Tower does not reduce emissions from current levels by 2030, it would be fined $469,848 under the new law at that time.

The poster included several other properties in New York with Mr. Trump’s name on them, and prospective fines. In fact, most of the buildings, including Trump Tower, are condominiums, which means that the condominium owners (which in some cases include Mr. Trump and his company for portions of the space) would be on the hook for the fines.

“We have a message for President Trump and all the other big building owners in New York City,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Cut your emissions or we will cut something you really care about: We will take your money.”

When it came time for reporters to ask questions, they had to approach the podium and shout as the mayor leaned over with a hand behind his ear in order to hear them.

Why shouldn’t this be seen as a thinly disguised campaign rally?

“This is about a bill that was passed by the City Council,” the mayor replied.

What did he think about the protesters?

“They’re just music to my ears,” the mayor said, “because it means we’re doing something important.”

The event did not escape the attention or criticism of Eric Trump, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, who said on Twitter that the mayor’s choice of venue was “childish.”

“Most mayors do all they can to support great businesses,” Eric Trump wrote in another Twitter post. “Here in N.Y.C., businesses are attacked for headlines and ‘political points,’” he wrote, adding it is “this very mentality that is causing people to leave our great city in droves.”

Mr. de Blasio has been trying to make the case that his policies in New York City — such as the building emissions law and his expansion of early childhood education — will play well across the country should he run for president.

But the news conference also showed how the mayor’s interest in running for higher office may derive, at least in part, from a desire to escape the persistent interest of local media in probing the minutiae of his mayoral management.

The mayor was asked about an ethics panel inquiry last year into his fund-raising practices, which he has repeatedly refused to acknowledge. He ducked the question again.

And he was asked, for the second week in a row, about a 2015 fender bender involving his official vehicle, which went unreported at the time. An article in The Daily News on Monday said that the mayor’s S.U.V. had crossed over into the opposite flow of traffic on 135th Street at the time of the crash.

Mr. de Blasio ducked again, saying that he was waiting for the Police Department to tell him if the incident was handled properly. (A copy of the police report included the preliminary finding that the mayor’s police driver was “at fault for driving counter flo.”)

Finally the mayor finished and left through the back of the building. His protesters took the equivalent of a victory lap, up and down the escalators (though in fairness it was a draw), and then marched out of the building’s Fifth Avenue doors, exiting under a huge American flag that hangs there. They refused to speak to reporters.

A short time later one of the protesters returned. Wearing a Yankees cap, a brown jacket and jeans, he descended to the lobby’s lower level where he was spotted by one of the building’s security guards. They greeted each other with a handshake and a grin.

“Was that you doing that stuff?” the security guard said. He wore a dark suit.

“Yeah,” the man in the Yankees cap said. He laughed and went to order a sandwich at the Trump Tower cafe, where he was treated like a regular. When a reporter approached and asked him questions he put earbuds in his ears.

Up at street level, someone turned down the volume on Tony Bennett.


Source

more recommended stories

  • Trump Opens Tokyo Visit With a Tweet Sure to Unnerve the Japanese

    TOKYO — President Trump kicked off.

  • Bernie Sanders, No Longer the Front-Runner, Brings Campaign Home to Vermont

    MONTPELIER, Vt. — Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • Fact-Checking Bernie Sanders on the Campaign Trail

    “Absolutely. In fact, climate change is.

  • A Lesson of Sandy Hook: ‘Err on the Side of the Victims’

    NEWTOWN, Conn. — Scarlett Lewis sees.

  • Iran Slams U.S. After Middle East Troop Buildup Is Announced

    LONDON — Iranian officials lashed out.

  • John Bolton Says North Korean Missile Tests Violated U.N. Resolutions

    TOKYO — North Korean weapons tests.

  • On Politics: The Biggest Stories of the Week

    • China’s Supply of Minerals for.

  • Supreme Court Blocks Two Rulings Striking Down Voting Maps

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on.

  • Barr Got More Power to Review the Russia Inquiry. Here’s What We Know About Its Origins.

    WASHINGTON — President Trump has given.

  • Edited Pelosi Video vs. the Original: A Side-by-Side Comparison – Video

    Channels & Shows Home Search U.S..

  • Jay Inslee Is Running on Climate Change. The Issue Is Catching On, So Why Isn’t He?

    RAYMOND, N.H. — For years, climate.

  • News Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of the Week’s Headlines

    Did you stay up to date.

  • On Politics: The Trade War Is Here to Stay

    Good Friday morning. Here are some.

  • Hope Hicks Left the White House. Now She Must Decide Whether to Talk to Congress.

    A White House spokesman did not.

  • 2020 Democrats Join McDonald’s Workers Striking Over Wages and Harassment

    As McDonald’s held its annual shareholder.

  • Sanders’s Education Plan Renews Debate Over Charter Schools and Segregation

    When Senator Bernie Sanders delivered a.

  • Trump Administration to Announce Farm Aid to Ease Pain of Trade War

    He reached out to Canadian and.

  • Pentagon to Build Temporary Shelter for 7,500 Migrant Adults Facing Deportation

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said on.

  • On Politics: Trump Blows Up Meeting With Democrats

    • New York State lawmakers approved.

  • U.S. Yet to Find Evidence of New Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria

    WASHINGTON — The United States has.

  • Michael Avenatti Is Charged With Stealing Nearly $300,000 From Stormy Daniels

    Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged the.

  • Trump’s Battles: Today’s State of Play

    congress and the presidency As Democrats.

  • Gillibrand Proposes Huge Investments in Maternal Health, Child Care and Education

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign on.

  • On Politics: Trump May Impose Limits on Chinese Maker of Surveillance Tech

    Good Wednesday morning. Here are some.

  • Anita Hill Worries Female 2020 Candidates Are ‘Not Being Taken Seriously’

    Mr. Biden spoke with Ms. Hill.

  • U.S. Says Syria’s President May Be Using Chemical Weapons Again

    WASHINGTON — The State Department said.

  • Kentucky Has a Primary Election Today. Here’s What to Watch.

    Voters in Kentucky are choosing their.

  • ‘Our Subpoenas Are Not Optional,’ Nadler Warns McGahn – Video

    By REUTERS | May. 21, 2019.

  • As McGahn Prepares to Defy Subpoena, Democrats’ Anger Swells

    WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee.

  • Lawmakers Break Ramadan Fast on Capitol Hill

    WASHINGTON — As the House’s day.

  • Fox News Welcomes Pete Buttigieg. Trump and ‘Fox & Friends’ Aren’t Pleased.

    Mr. Hume added, “Oh, and covering.

  • Impeachment Appeal Pushes Justin Amash From G.O.P. Gadfly to Insurgent

    Calls to the congressman’s cellphone and.