Politics

Trump and Cuomo fight over federal assistance on coronavirus: 'This is mayhem'

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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sparred on Friday over the federal government's efforts to provide assistance to the state as it struggles to contain the coronavirus.
  • The back-and-forth kicked off after the president responded on Twitter to comments Cuomo made during a press briefing on the public health crisis.
  • Cuomo, a Democrat, complained that the guidelines Trump announced the day before, which shifted the onus of reopening parts of the economy to the states, amounted to passing the buck "without passing the bucks."
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NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Pres. Trump spar over federal coronavirus aid

President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resumed their war of words on Friday over the federal government's efforts to provide assistance to the state as it struggles to contain the coronavirus.

The back-and-forth kicked off after the president responded on Twitter to comments Cuomo made during a press briefing on the public health crisis.

Cuomo, a Democrat, complained that the guidelines Trump announced the day before, which shifted the onus of reopening parts of the economy to the states, amounted to passing the buck "without passing the bucks."

The federal government had provided "zero, zilch, nada in unrestricted aid" in its first three Covid-19 rescue bills even as it asks states to up their efforts, Cuomo said. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his a press briefing about the coronavirus crisis on April 17, 2020 in Albany, New York.
Matthew Cavanaugh | Getty Images

"The state should this, the state should this, the state should this. Yes, well, what support have you given the states?" Cuomo said. "None. How can that even be?"

The governor also complained that the federal government was competing with states to buy coronavirus testing kits.

"This is mayhem," Cuomo said. "We need a coordinated approach between the federal government and the states."

The president took to Twitter even as Cuomo was speaking, writing: "Governor Cuomo should spend more time 'doing' and less time complaining'. Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking!"

Trump tweet

"We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn't need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing," Trump continued.

"We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks," he wrote. "Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!"

The two New Yorkers have feuded throughout the crisis even as the state became the hardest hit in the nation. More than 12,000 in New York have died from Covid-19, according to state health officials. The number dying per day has remained largely flat, Cuomo said Friday, noting that 630 had died from coronavirus the day before. 

Pressed by reporters to respond to Trump's commentary, Cuomo said it was true that the state did not end up needing all of the hospital beds that it had asked for, but noted that the projections were from the White House, not New York. 

"The number came from a projection from him. So he should read the reports he issues, Cuomo said. "Were we foolish for relying on your projections, Mr. President?"

Cuomo said that if Trump wanted to punish someone over those projections, he could start by firing members of his coronavirus task force, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who wrote memos in January and February warning of a devastating toll from the virus. 

The governor also thanked the White House for the assistance it had already provided, citing its role in establishing a temporary hospital at the Javits Center, sending the Navy hospital ship, Comfort, and for helping source protective medical gear and ventilators.

But he said that providing such assistance came with the job. 

"I've said a number of times: What am I supposed to do, send a bouquet of flowers?" Cuomo said.

And, he added, the crisis was not yet over, and New York needed more help. At the moment, he said, what the state needs most from the federal government is help with testing. 

"I don't care about his politics, but if we don't have federal help on testing, that is a real problem," Cuomo said.

Trump, in another tweet Friday, put that responsibility on the states.

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