New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo angrily responded late Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s threat to “defund” New York City and other Democratic cities that have seen violent protests, warning Trump he would “need an army” if he returned to the city of his birth.
Cuomo, a Democrat, hastily called a conference call with reporters Wednesday night after the White House issued a five-page memo threatening to cut federal funding to what it called “anarchist institutions”
The memo defines the term as as any city that has “refused to undertake reasonable measures” to curb violence and property destruction.
But it specifically mentioned four largely Democratic cities: New York City, Portland, Seattle and Washington D.C.
That drew a fiery response from Cuomo, who called Trump the “worst president in history” from New York City’s perspective. He criticized Trump for his coronavirus response and accused Trump’s administration of slowing down several city-based projects, including a congestion-pricing system meant to boost funding for public transit.
Trump, a Republican who changed his permanent residence from New York to Florida last year, would not be welcomed back to the city, Cuomo said.
Cuomo and Trump are both originally from Queens.
“He can’t come back to New York. He can’t,” said Cuomo, a Democrat. “He’s going to walk down the street in New York? Forget bodyguards, he better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the street in New York.”
Within minutes, Cuomo sought to clarify his “army” comment, saying he only meant to suggest Trump won’t come back to the city because he knows how New York residents feel about him.
“All I’m saying is that he is persona non grata in New York City and I think he knows that and he’ll never come back to New York because New Yorkers will never forget how gratuitously mean he has been to New Yorkers,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s comments, which included the governor’s familiar criticism that Trump did not shut down European travel fast enough during the COVID-19 crisis, appeared to draw a response from Trump on Twitter Thursday morning.
In a tweet, Trump said Cuomo has the “worst record” on the coronavirus.
“11,000 people alone died in Nursing Homes because of his incompetence!” Trump tweeted, a reference to an Associated Press story that suggested New York is under-counting the COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi responded by saying Trump’s tweet was filled with “lies and conspiracies.”
“You literally reccomended that people inject bleach in their veins to fight COVID … and some actually did,” he tweeted in reference to Trump musing earlier this year about whether disinfectants could fight the coronavirus.
Cuomo’s “army” comment caused a stir on social media, where the governor’s name was trending on Twitter as of Thursday morning.
“(W)hat he meant was Trump was persona non grata after everything he did to his now abandoned home town,” Azzopardi tweeted. “Where was this faux outrage energy when Trump did 5th Ave. shooting comments?
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