After political pundits and supporters of President Donald Trump clutched their pearls over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s remarks Wednesday that Trump would “need an army” the next time he visits New York, the governor didn’t dial down his fury during a Thursday conference call with reporters.
Cuomo kept up the militant rhetoric in his criticism of Trump on everything from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic; to promises of a vaccine around Election Day; to the president’s critiques of prosecutors seeking his tax returns. He went as far as to suggest that Trump, if the pandemic were an actual war, would face a court-martial for “dereliction of duty.”
The latest imbroglio between Cuomo and Trump began Wednesday night when Trump announced his intention to “defund” New York and other cities where protests — a number of which resulted in looting and vandalism — have occurred. Whether Trump actually has such authority is under scrutiny.
My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses. We’re putting them on notice today. @RussVought45
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
But that statement, and a follow-up report from ABC News, prompted Cuomo to hold a hastily-arranged conference call Wednesday evening. The governor castigated Trump as a bully who hates New York, and said the president is no longer welcome in his former hometown.
“He can’t come back to New York. He can’t. He’s gonna walk down the street in New York? Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York,” Cuomo said.
That comment hit a nerve and crossed a line. Many pundits on social media slammed the governor for using such threatening language against Trump — who has previously been accused of making violent threats of his own against his political opponents.
Two wrongs never make a right – yet the criticism didn’t seem to sway Cuomo very much.
In his follow-up press conference Thursday — which sought to rebut additional critical tweets from the president — Cuomo dressed Trump down again as “fundamentally a bully” who distorts the truth and blew the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He said that his protection of Americans against these protests is akin to World War II. No. World War II — I’ll tell you what’s akin to World War II: It was the COVID attack,” Cuomo said. “This nation has not been attacked by an enemy who has killed more and ravaged more than COVID since World War II, and the president, as a commander-in-chief, has been an abysmal failure in the war against COVID.”
The governor also mocked Trump’s claim that he can win New York — a state that has supported a Democratic presidential candidate every election since 1988 — and slammed Trump’s claim of “puppet prosecutors” investigating him in New York.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has been attempting to obtain the president’s tax returns as part of an ongoing investigation — an effort that Trump has repeatedly challenged in federal court.
“I don’t appoint the prosecutors. The president appoints public prosecutors, he appoints [Attorney General] William Barr — who, I understand from the president’s point of view, yes, William Barr is his puppet,” Cuomo said. “Judges have sided with Cy Vance and I’m sure Cy Vance, who’s an experienced prosecutor, has a probable cause to ask for his taxes. The president is desperately trying to [keep] secret his taxes. I don’t know why.”
Beyond all the bluster, the city and state are taking Trump’s threat to defund seriously.
Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and state Attorney General Letitia James deemed the effort as illegal, and threatened to take the president to court to stop it.
While @realDonaldTrump spent this year hiding from COVID-19, New York City led the fight back.
Now we’re trying to recover and he’s making unconstitutional, political threats against us.
Mr. President, we’ll see you in court. We’ve beaten you there before and we’ll do it again.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) September 3, 2020
“As the nation battles a pandemic, an economic recession, and reckons with institutional racism, President Trump has decided to throw fuel on these multiple fires by threatening New York and other major cities across the country,” James said in a statement Thursday. “This is nothing more than a desperate, last ditch election strategy by a president too weak to lead us through these national crises. Sowing anger and dividing Americans are the last thing we need, and if the president actually decides to move forward with his threat to defund New York City, we will be ready to take immediate legal action.”