Eric Adams’s Criticism of Biden Angers Aides and Reveals Democratic Rift

The Democratic Party is following a standard strategy as President Biden seeks re-election: Do not criticize him publicly under any circumstances, lest it help Donald J. Trump or one of his acolytes take back the White House for Republicans.

The one Democrat who appears to have missed the memo is Mayor Eric Adams of New York City.

Mr. Adams has taken nearly every opportunity in recent weeks to publicly blame Mr. Biden or his administration for the influx of migrants to New York from border states, many of them on buses dispatched by Republican governors.

His eagerness to point a finger at the White House has infuriated top Biden aides, who note the issue’s global complexity. At the same time, the mayor is using his platform to amplify concerns many Democrats share but will not articulate publicly because they don’t want to hurt the president.

The recent schism comes as Republicans make Mr. Biden’s immigration policy central to their efforts to dislodge him in 2024. After many Democratic candidates last year successfully used abortion rights against their Republican opponents, Mr. Biden’s nascent campaign would prefer that his allies stay on message — something Mr. Adams has shown scant willingness to do, despite once calling himself “the Biden of Brooklyn.”

Mr. Biden’s aides and allies in Washington — a half dozen of whom spoke about their private discussions on the condition of anonymity — are clearly irritated with the mayor. In their view, Mr. Adams is a grandstanding opportunist, aiming to win headlines for himself without regard to the broader political implications for the president and his re-election.

Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, said in a statement that “Mayor Adams has and always will put the interest of New Yorkers first and foremost, and that’s why we’ve been asking for support for a year.” He added, “We desperately need federal and state support more than ever to quickly manage this crisis.”

Last year, some White House officials were annoyed when Mr. Adams released a public letter asking for more monkeypox vaccines and calling the White House’s approach “piecemeal” after it had already told Mr. Adams privately that he would receive the vaccine shipments he had requested.

When Mr. Abbott began busing migrants to New York from Texas border towns, Mr. Adams and his team asked the White House for federal support to house migrants, expedite their work permits and move some of them to cruise ships in the city’s harbor. The administration would often reply that many of the mayor’s requests required congressional action — which was unlikely, given the gridlock at the Capitol.

On multiple occasions, White House officials told the mayor’s staff that they hoped to continue talking about the issues privately and emphasized the need to move forward as a partnership. Instead, Mr. Adams continued to criticize the administration in public.

“He should be looking at Republicans who are purposely causing chaos for their political benefit and refusing to take any action to fix the issue,” said Pili Tobar, a former Biden administration deputy communications director who dealt with immigration.

How much political benefit Mr. Adams can gain by attacking Mr. Biden is another question.

Representative Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, said the mayor’s “sentiment is understandable and his grievance against the federal government strikes me as legitimate.”

He added: “Do I wish he were more careful in his word choice? Sure.”

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