Photo credit: Alex Brandon/AP

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had harsh words for Donald Trump’s move to deny funding to New York and other major cities that he calls “lawless" during an interview on "Inside City Hall" Thursday.

Speaking with NY1's Errol Louis, Gillibrand said the move was "absolutely illegal" and that Trump has "no authority" to do it.

“The power of the purse resides with Congress, so he cannot take money that’s already been allocated for programs in New York or Washington State or any other state that he wants to punish," Gillibrand said. "I see this action by him as purely political and designed to continue to divide the country.  He is just wrong.”

Gillirband praised the Black Lives Matter movement as “powerful” for pointing out the many ways racial injustice continues to be part of the American story.

“I think Black Lives Matter has shined a light on income inequality, the wealth gap between Black and white Americans, injustices in criminal justice and in health care, and they are pushing elected leaders to see that now is the time," she said. "I think this is a call to action.  It is a moral reckoning, and I stand ready to be an ally.”

Gillibrand talked about legislation she is working on focusing on maternal mortality,

“Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth because of institutional racism,” she said.

She also said she’s also working on legislation that would end cash bail, and is pushing for access to capital for Black and minority-owned businesses as part of coronavirus relief, along with an infrastructure program that would help grow communities of color.

She also expressed support for using some monies that now go to police departments to fund mental health and social programs, calling it “a different way to create community safety and security that is not specific to law enforcement.”

Gillibrand also pushed for programs to help stem the growing food insecurity, made worse by the pandemic, especially for children.

“People are in such grave need,” she said. “Now that kids may not be going back to school and there may be more remote learning, that’s another meal that a child doesn’t get.  For many children in our state, that reduced price or free meal is the best meal they get in a day.”