The New York Republicans who live in glass houses

Rep. Elise Stefanik
Rep. Elise Stefanik
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Rep. Elise Stefanik

The New York Republicans who live in glass houses

GOP notables say different things about Trump and Cuomo when it comes to COVID-19 and sexual misconduct.
March 12, 2021

New York Republicans are feeling high and mighty nowadays, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo battles ongoing scandals on alleged sexual harassment and his handling of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. “I happen to think it doesn't end well for the governor,” New York City Council Member Joe Borelli told Fox News on March 8. “It's just very sad to see the hypocrisy and double standards by someone who has such a large ego.” 

Speaking of hypocrisy and double standards, other prominent New York Republicans including Reps. Elise Stefanik, Nicole Malliotakis, Lee Zeldin and state party Chair Nick Langworthy have made similar statements blasting Cuomo over alleged sexual misconduct and his handling of COVID-19. 

Now, there is nothing wrong with elected leaders holding the governor accountable for alleged sexual harassment or mismanagement of a pandemic. But it is strange to see it coming from these specific GOP politicos, because they weren’t so concerned about former President Donald Trump – a man accused of sexual assault by 26 women. Trump, with the support of these same Republicans, went on to get elected president, before deliberately hiding the dangers of the coronavirus from the American people, refusing to send needed supplies to New York during the height of its COVID-19 outbreak and failing to produce enough tests for the virus. All of these New York Republicans then supported Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020. Some of them also abetted his attempts to overturn the 2020 election. 

Of course, the GOP would like to reclaim New York’s governorship for the first time since 2006, which may have something to do with Republicans’ newfound commitment to women’s rights and public health best practices. City & State reached out to these five figures to ask for their explanations on the discrepancy between their attitudes on Cuomo and Trump. Even though they surely have very convincing explanations for why their apparent hypocrisy is nothing of the sort, none of them shared their reasoning with us by press time. To be sure, this list is by no means exhaustive: other Trump-supporting New York Republicans, including Rep. Tom Reed and state Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt have issued caustic criticisms of Cuomo.

But here’s a full rundown on some of New York’s most outspoken and prominent Republican politicians:

Rep. Elise Stefanik

COVID-19

Trump: “I think that, in terms of the legislative and whole of government approach, that it has been a very strong response." (Oct. 2020)

Cuomo:“We lost more people in the state of New York than any other state across this country because of this mismanagement of the governor of New York State.” (Aug. 2020)

Sexual misconduct

Trump:“Donald Trump’s inappropriate, offensive comments are just wrong - No matter when he said them or whatever the context. I hope his apology is sincere.” (Oct. 2016)

Cuomo: “Gov. Cuomo is a criminal sexual predator and he must immediately resign.” (Feb. 2021)

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

COVID-19

Trump: “People didn’t even know about the good things because the other side has been so busy criticizing him and trying to impeach him and investigate him over the four years, which I think was very unfair.” (Feb. 2021)

Cuomo:“The Governor should immediately resign and the Department of Justice should hold Governor Cuomo and his administration accountable." (Feb. 2021)

Sexual misconduct: 

Trump: City & State could not find any public statements when Malliotakis has directly commented on the litany of sexual assault allegations against the former president. 

Cuomo:“The mounting sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo are deeply disturbing and only add to the reasons why the governor needs to resign immediately.” (March 2021)

Rep. Lee Zeldin

COVID-19

Trump:“During a once-in-a-century pandemic – an unforeseeable crisis sent to us from a faraway land – the president’s effort for New York was phenomenal.” (Aug. 2020)

Cuomo:It is the government’s first and most important priority to protect its citizens .. We must learn what failures of government led to this tragedy.” (Aug. 2020)

Sexual misconduct

Trump:City & State could not find any public statements in which Zeldin directly commented on the litany of sexual assault allegations against the former president. 

Cuomo: “Cuomo institutionalized widespread abuse, which silenced his many victims and allowed him to continue preying on those around him not just under the cover of darkness... New York legislators, voters and the media must do everything we can to hold him accountable.” (Feb. 2020)

State party Chair Nick Langworthy

COVID-19

Trump: “The President gave the people … the sight of the USS Comfort.” (Aug. 2020)

Cuomo: “He needs to be held accountable… This is one of the most serious errors ever committed.” (Feb. 2021)

Sexual misconduct

Trump: City & State could not find any public statements in which Langworthy directly commented on the litany of sexual assault allegations against the former president. 

Cuomo: “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: we already have ample evidence that proves Andrew Cuomo is unfit to serve and anything short of a full impeachment is a complicit move to keep him as Governor.” (March 2021)

New York City Council Member Joe Borelli – honorary state chair of Trump’s reelection campaign

COVID-19

Trump: “The federal resources mustered for NY over the past 5 weeks by the Trump administration through (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) have been tremendous.” (April 2020)

Cuomo: “Criminal. Impeach. Indict. Convict. #cuomosgottago” (March 2021)

Sexual misconduct

Trump: City & State could not find any public statements in which Borelli directly commented on the litany of sexual assault allegations against the former president, however, in 2017 he argued that claims that Trump is anti-woman are bogus: “Considering nearly every person speaking for the President & the RNC is a woman, Trump must be totally anti-women - media narrative.” (Sept. 2017)

Cuomo: “Journalists would do well cornering democratic officials and legislators on whether they will support his re-election bid next year.” (March 2021)

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.
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Sheneca Sharpe
is an Editorial Intern at City & State
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