The war of words between President Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo raged on Thursday morning, with the two men exchanging shots at each other over the coronavirus pandemic, investigations conducted by state prosecutors and more.
Trump accused Cuomo of having “puppet New York prosecutors” investigate him, perhaps referring to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which has been trying to enforce a subpoena to get the president’s tax returns. Cuomo denied this and accused Trump of being the one with his own puppet.
“We don’t have puppet prosecutors in New York, I don’t appoint the prosecutors,”
Cuomo said during a conference call. “The president appoints puppet prosecutors. He appoints William Barr, who I understand from the president’s point of view, yes William Barr is his puppet. Yes, William Barr is a prosecutor. That doesn’t happen in New York. That’s a federal situation.”
Cuomo then continued, defending the Manhattan DA’s investigation.
“Cy Vance — the district attorney in Manhattan — gets elected. He ran in Manhattan. There’s an election, people vote, and he’s the district attorney,” Cuomo said. “Cy Vance has asked for his taxes. It’s not illegal. Judges have sided with Cy Vance. I’m sure Cy Vance, who’s an experienced prosecutor, has a probable cause to ask for his taxes. The president desperately is trying to secret his taxes. I don’t know why. I released my taxes. I don’t understand why the president has such great fear about releasing his taxes to go to all this extent. There must be something he really doesn’t want people to see.”
Vance is not the only one in New York investigating Trump. State Attorney General Letitia James has an ongoing probe into the Trump Organization, and a previous investigation of the Trump Foundation led to the foundation being dissolved.
Trump mentioned “puppet prosecutors” in the context of suggesting that they look into Cuomo’s policies regarding nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo has repeatedly denied culpability, claiming that infected staff brought the virus into facilities.
On Thursday, Cuomo avoided talk about nursing homes but blamed Trump for not keeping the virus out of the U.S. The governor said that while the president was focused on blocking travel from China — where the virus originated — he should have been paying attention to Europe, where Cuomo says infected travelers came from, spreading the pandemic to the U.S.
“If these were missiles rather than a viral transmission, the United States would have been devastated,” he said.
This latest round of verbal jabs picked up from where they left off on Wednesday. Cuomo delivered harsh words in response to Trump threatening to withhold federal funds from New York City — as well as Washington, D.C., Seattle and Portland, Ore. — as part of an effort to target “anarchist jurisdictions.”
“He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo said. “Forget bodyguards, he’d better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”
Cuomo later tried to walk back the threatening nature of that comment, as the New York Post reported.
“My comment about the president and bodyguards in New York City, all I’m saying is that he is persona non grata in New York City,” he said.
Thursday, Attorney General James also responded to Trump’s threat to withhold funding, saying that “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”