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Cuomo argues against Trump’s ‘total authority’ claim, but says he won’t feud with him

April 12, 2020 - Niskayuna, NY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo makes an announcement at Pathways Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niskayuna. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

Governor Andrew Cuomo warned against political division on Tuesday morning shortly after President Donald Trump condemned the action by states on a regional level to band together in the face of elusive leadership from the White House.

On Monday, Cuomo and the governors of six other northeast states announced the formation of a multi-state council to focus on reopening strategies. That same afternoon, California, Oregon and Washington state announced a similar coalition. Both alliances were condemned by Trump, who claimed “total authority” over the situation, something which no president has under the Constitution.

After Trump tweeted on Tuesday terminology like “mutiny” to describe actions from governors across the country, Cuomo responded that morning by invoking the constitution and limited federal authority all while saying he would not engage with the president in a feud during a global health crisis.

“Here in the United States, we don’t have a king; we didn’t want one,” Cuomo said at his April 14 briefing. “Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away from a fight than engage it. The president will have no fight from me, I will not engage it.”

Trump likened himself on Twitter as the captain and the governors as the crew of Mutiny on the Bounty, Cuomo said the president’s claims of authority were “violative of the very concept of democracy.”

Trump’s online tirade turned to Cuomo himself accusing the governor of incessant calls asking for federal assistance in the COVID-19 crisis that has killed 10,834, well over triple the number of deaths on 9/11. Cuomo said the accusation of calling the White House on the hour was true.

“Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc,” Trump said. “I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”

On Monday, the tri-state coalition of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut grew to include Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Massachusetts to establish a task force to develop a strategy for reopening the economy.

Cuomo was insistent that this was not a partisan attack on the president, as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is a Republican.

As the states announced the task force, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf – as well as other leaders – expressed confusion on the matter of reopening the economy: Why would the federal government leave it to the states to shut down and then say they had no authority in getting commerce up and running again?

The volume of COVID-19 cases is still heavy as Governor Andrew Cuomo reports 1,600 new hospitalizations across the state and 778 have died as of Monday. 

But the evidence points to a flattening with the death toll being a “lagging indicator” as the curve plateaus. The New York state coronavirus death toll stands at 10,834, Cuomo said Tuesday morning.

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