Trump’s attacks on Cuomo continue

President Trump and Governor Cuomo continue to bump heads on how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
President Trump and Governor Cuomo continue to bump heads on how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Orhan Cam/Shutterstock
President Trump and Governor Cuomo continue to bump heads on how to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Trump’s attacks on Cuomo continue

The governor wants the Army Corps of Engineers to build hospital beds.
March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning via Twitter. The bottom line is that Trump is not – at least for now – going to mobilize the Army Corps of Engineers to build thousands of hospital beds in the coming weeks. 

It appears that tensions had lessened by the time that Cuomo hosted a Tuesday morning press conference at the state Capitol. Cuomo told reporters he had spoken with the president this morning and believes Trump is “100% sincere” in saying they could work together. “He said, ‘I will work with you, what do you need?’” Cuomo said at the press conference. “I said: ‘I need the Army Corps of Engineers,’ and he said: ‘OK.’”

But Trump has yet to announce such a move and struck a different political chord just hours earlier on social media. The president appeared to be deflecting blame for the outbreak of what he called the “Chinese Virus” in a Tuesday morning tweet that noted that West Virginia (a sparsely populated and relatively remote state) has no confirmed cases of the virus, while New York is a “very big ‘hotspot’” led by a governor who should “keep politics out of it.”

Without the help of the Army Corps of Engineers – a federal agency that oversees a wide range of civil projects like dams, canals and flood protections across the country – Cuomo says the state will lack sufficient hospital capacity to absorb the coming wave of coronavirus cases. Cuomo has made the request for such federal assistance a top priority in recent days, but his cable TV appearances, tweets and conversations with the Trump administration have yet to sway the mercurial president. Like many feuds before, Cuomo assumed a conciliatory posture (he even said something nice about Trump over the weekend) in making the initial ask before pivoting to a more confrontational posture in response to Trump’s attacks.

Following a conference call with other governors on Monday, Trump said via Twitter that Cuomo needed to “do more” to deal with coronavirus. “Happy to do your job, too,” Cuomo tweeted on Monday afternoon. “Just give me control of the Army Corps of Engineers and I’ll take it from there.”

Unlike past spats with the governor (like the one involving driver’s licenses for undocumented people), Trump does not have the full backing of New York Republicans to take on Cuomo at a time of national emergency. Republicans and Democrats alike have given the governor high marks for his response to coronavirus so far. Given the unease over Trump’s response to the outbreak, it is possible that a fair number of people wouldn’t mind Cuomo getting a win this time around if it helps the state save lives. For his part, Trump had shifted his Twitter attacks towards the “Failing Michigan Governor” by the late morning. 

Zach Williams
is a staff reporter at City & State.
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