“There are columnists who made this point at The Post who are 100 percent supportive of Donald Trump and that’s fine — but then believe, you know, we have to kill all Democrats,” Cuomo told reporters in Washington, DC when asked whether the hot-potato mandate came up during his meeting with the president about an hour earlier.
“I get it, I understand it,” Cuomo said from the National Press Club. “They’re open in their support of the Trump administration, and I guess their attitude is to be pro-Donald Trump, you have to be anti-Democrat, which I don’t really understand.”
Cuomo has been under bipartisan fire for his Health Department’s March 25 mandate prohibiting nursing homes from turning away those who have tested positive for the bug, despite repeatedly acknowledging that the facilities’ elderly populations are among the most vulnerable.
In announcing a probe by the state attorney general’s office not of his policy but of nursing homes — Cuomo has maintained that the facilities always had not just a right but a responsibility to seek alternate arrangements for patients they’re unable to care for.
And earlier this month, Cuomo said critics could “ask President Trump” about the policy enacted by his Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, arguing that it was originally crafted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that the state was simply following their lead.
He did not mention that the CDC guidance was just that while the state order bound the nursing homes under law.
All the while, Cuomo has publicly clung to the policy, despite well over 5,000 confirmed or suspected coronavirus deaths in state nursing homes though he curbed it earlier this month, under withering criticism, by mandating that hospital patients must be coronavirus-free before they can be discharged to nursing homes.
He denied Wednesday that he was trying to pin the blame on the president.
“I never did that,” he told reporters Wednesday, despite previously having said, “Anyone who wants to ask, ‘Why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes,’ it’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance.”
“I said, ‘They want to play politics with this.’ There are Republicans who are trying to make political hay out of this, in my opinion,” Cuomo maintained.
“What I said to the Republicans who are making this accusation [is] you have to find an accusation, for it to work politically, that you can make against the Democrat that is not a boomerang and comes back and affects the Republicans.”
Criticism from lawmakers in Cuomo’s home state, however, has been firmly bipartisan, with Democratic and Republican pols alike calling for probes of what role the March 25 mandate had in the staggering death toll.
“I never blamed him for anything,” he continued about the president, adding, “The context to what I said was, I said it to a Post reporter.”
Cuomo said that the issue did not come up during his White House meeting with Trump, instead insisting that it was a “good conversation” largely focused on infrastructure projects in New York.