The Big Apple Circus: How lawmakers from Queens to Crown Heights have taken over Washington D.C.

by Editorial Team

Be careful what you ask for.

For years, New Yorkers groused about being on the outside looking in on Capitol Hill. Now, Big Apple politics have taken over Washington, and the swamp that President Trump promised to drain when he was elected in 2016 is just stocked with a new brand of critters.

They are brash and bigger than life, like New Yorkers tend to be. But they are also bold and brilliant, as many New Yorkers are.

And with the impeachment spotlight as bright as any bulb on Broadway, this Plaza Suite of political players is not shrinking from the big stage.

Suddenly, in the Age of Trump, with impeachment looming like an opening night curtain, lawmakers from all corners of the five boroughs seem to be standing at the end of every corridor of power in Washington.

Gotham’s dominance comes as representatives from the nation’s largest city are setting the course for the country. The result is an old-fashioned street fight — the combative soul of New York — on full display.

“It’s always good to be in the spotlight,” said political consultant Charlie King, who has run for New York lieutenant governor and state attorney general. “It’s not like anyone’s talking about North Dakota.”

The circus that is the impeachment imbroglio is a virtual who’s who of New York’s political establishment, from headliners who have dominated the front pages for decades to supporting players just cutting their legislative teeth.

At the top of the heap is the president of the United States himself, a born-and-bred city slicker from Queens who, despite a recent “move” to Florida is about as synonymous with New York as Central Park or the hulking Fifth Ave. tower that bears his name.

High in the impeachment pyramid is the president’s personal proctor who traded his two-term legacy as “America’s Mayor” for an uncomfortable spot under the bus.

It was 75-year-old Rudy Giuliani’s dealings on behalf of Trump in Ukraine that are front and center of the impeachment inquiries.

It was almost impossible to imagine this day back in 2000, when the two teamed up for a media-skewering Inner Circle skit that featured Trump pretending to flirt with Giuliani as he wore a wig and dress.

“Oh, you dirty boy!” Giuliani shrieked as he pretended to slap the future president.

Other New York players have been on the scene just as long. They include Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 69, a designated Trump-basher from Brooklyn who has been in the Senate since 1998, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Stuyvesant High School graduate, who is leading the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry.

In fact, Nadler’s role has resurrected a long-simmering feud between him and Trump that goes back more than three decades, when Nadler, then a state assemblyman, helped block a Trump development.

“Nadler fought me for years on a very large development I built on the West Side of Manhattan.” Trump tweeted earlier this year. “Now I am dealing with Congressman Nadler again. Some things never end, but hopefully it will all go well for everyone. Only time will tell!”

Time is already telling. It’s not going well, at least not for Trump and Giuliani, who, according to King, may have taken their Big Apple bravado too far.

“You can’t have two characters out of central casting be more like the New York stereotype mold: obnoxious, brassy, New York type,” King explained.

That schtick might play well in Bensonhurst or the Bronx, but not in Peoria or Paducah.

“Unfortunately for Giuliani, he’s doubling down on that typecast,” King said.

But for New York Democrats, the impeachment process has been a chance to shine. Rep. Eliot Engel, 72, (D-Bronx) has used his House Foreign Affairs Committee perch to run down the president’s alleged dirty dealings overseas.

“The President’s repeated abuses have brought American democracy to a perilous crossroads,” Engel said in his call for an inquiry. “Following the guidance of the Constitution — which I have sworn to uphold — is the only way to achieve justice.”

So, too, says Engel’s congressional colleague, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 73, who until Trump’s change to a Florida address was the president’s representative in Congress.

Last month, Maloney was elected as the first woman to lead the influential House Oversight and Reform Committee, the crucial investigative panel at the center of the impeachment inquiry. She replaced Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who died in October.

The irony here is that Trump, back in the days when he was just a party-hopping real estate developer looking to curry favor with local officials, regularly contributed to the various campaigns of such Democratic politicians as Schumer, Maloney and Nadler.

“Everybody knows each other. Everybody has a history with each other,” said Bob Liff, a longtime New York political consultant. “New York is a crucible that prepares you for a lot of tough fights. You need sharp elbows to survive politically.”

Rounding out the impeachment drama players are Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens), relative newcomers to the Washington political scene.

Jeffries is winning points for his cautious approach. The outspoken Ocasio-Cortez, not so much — although her turns at Congressional microphones have been must-watch TV.

New Yorkers on the periphery include Mayor de Blasio, who has already jumped out of the race to be the Democratic nominee to take on Trump, and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who just jumped in.

And let’s not forget perpetual presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who is from Brooklyn.

“For better or worse, we are center state in this whole constitutional crisis,” Liff said. “As we ought to be. We’re New York.”


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