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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Says He Won't Fight With Trump

A couple wearing masks crosses the almost-deserted Times Square in New York City on Monday.
Johannes Eisele
AFP via Getty Images
A couple wearing masks crosses the almost-deserted Times Square in New York City on Monday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will not fight with President Trump during a pandemic, appearing conciliatory after a day of rising tension between the two men.

At a news conference Monday, Trump said his "authority is total" in terms of when to open the economy. He then tweeted Tuesday that governors such as Cuomo who were starting to make their own plans about how to reopen their states are mutinous.

Cuomo, for his part, harshly criticized the president on several morning news shows. He took issue with the president's claim of "total authority" over the states, which Cuomo — and legal experts — said is unconstitutional.

But Cuomo said midday Tuesday that he wants, and needs, to work with the federal government.

"I put my hand out in total cooperation with the president. If he wants a fight, he's not going to get it from me. Period," Cuomo said.

And despite his combative tone on Monday and earlier Tuesday, Trump at a later White House event said he would be making decisions about how to reopen the economy in consultation with governors.

"I'm going to be making a decision pretty quickly. And it's being done in conjunction with governors. We have tremendous support from governors. And what I do is going to be done in conjunction with governors," Trump said.

Cuomo repeated some of his past praise of Trump's efforts on behalf of New York – including help with setting up a temporary hospital in Manhattan's Javits Center.

He said further cooperation was crucial. New York's "curve" of coronavirus cases has flattened, even though the lagging indicator of deaths is still nearing 800 per day.

"It's basically flat, at a devastating level of pain and grief," he said.

The governor said that this progress is still reversible and that his state needs all the help it can get.

"This is going to take us working together. We have a real challenge ahead. Just because those numbers are flattening, it's no time to relax. We're not out of the woods," said Cuomo. "In this reopening, we could lose all the progress we made in one week if we do it wrong."

Cuomo urged, for example, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency take over purchase and distribution of testing kits to prevent chaotic bidding wars between state governments.

Trump also said Tuesday that he would announce advisers on the question of reopening the economy at his daily briefing at 5 p.m.

"We're going to announce the groups of people that are going to be talking to us," he said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.