Governor Andrew Cuomo warned against political divisiveness on Tuesday morning shortly after President Donald Trump condemned the action by states on a regional level to band together in the face of elusive leadership from the White House.
On Monday, Cuomo and the governors of six other northeast states announced the formation of a multi-state council to focus on reopening strategies. That in the day, California, Oregon, and Washington state announced a similar coalition. Both alliances were condemned by Trump, who claimed “total authority” over the situation, something which no president has under the Constitution.
After Trump tweeted on Tuesday using words like “mutiny” to describe actions from governors across the nation, Cuomo responded by invoking the US Constitution and the limited federal authority it delineates all while saying he would not engage with the president in a feud during a global health crisis.
“Here in the United States, we don’t have a king; we didn’t want one,” Cuomo said at his April 14 briefing. “Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away from a fight than engage it. The president will have no fight from me, I will not engage it.”
On Twitter , Trump likened himself to the captain and the governors as the crew in “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Cuomo responded that the president’s claims of authority were “violative of the very concept of democracy.”
Trump’s online tirade turned to Cuomo himself, accusing the governor of incessant calls asking for federal assistance in the COVID-19 crisis that has killed 10,834 in New York, well over triple the number of deaths on 9/11. Cuomo acknowledged that the claim he called the White House on the hour was true.
“Cuomo’s been calling daily, even hourly, begging for everything, most of which should have been the state’s responsibility, such as new hospitals, beds, ventilators, etc,” Trump said. “I got it all done for him, and everyone else, and now he seems to want Independence! That won’t happen!”
On Monday, an existing tri-state coalition of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut expanded to include Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts in the establishment of a task force to develop a strategy for reopening the economy.
Cuomo was insistent that this was not a partisan attack on the president, as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is a Republican.
As the states announced the task force, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf — as well as other leaders — expressed confusion about Trump’s opposition to the states’ cooperation on reopening the economy: Why would the federal government leave it to the states to shut down and then say they had no authority in getting commerce up and running again?
The volume of COVID-19 cases remains heavy, with Cuomo reporting 1,600 new hospitalizations on Monday and 778 more deaths.
But the evidence points to a flattening, with the death toll being a “lagging indicator” as the curve plateaus. The New York state coronavirus death toll stands at 10,834, the governor said Tuesday morning.
This story first appeared in amny.com. To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter.