Five months later, though, Cuomo seems to have carved out an exception for one New York native: President Trump.
“He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday evening. “Forget bodyguards. He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York."
After Trump moved to slash federal funding from several cities his administration labeled as “anarchist jurisdictions” late Wednesday, specifically singling out New York, Cuomo shot back. The commander in chief, he said, was “persona non grata” in their shared hometown.
“From the point of view of New York City, [Trump] has been the worst president,” Cuomo said. “President Ford said drop dead. President Trump has been actively trying to kill New York City ever since he was elected.”
The sharp comments — perhaps Cuomo’s strongest rebuke yet — raised so many eyebrows online that a senior adviser to the governor later had to issue a clarification: No, Trump would not literally need protection on the streets of Manhattan, he said. The president had simply abandoned New York, he claimed.
But Cuomo’s words nonetheless underscore just how frosty the president’s connection to his hometown has become. Trump, for his part, had already complained about being “treated very badly” by New York political leaders when he moved his official residence to Florida last year.
As protests about police brutality and racial injustice have swept across the nation this summer, Trump has repeatedly urged a crackdown on the unrest — a move that many critics view as an intentional part of his campaign strategy.
He amped it up a notch this week. As The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reported, the White House’s Wednesday memo signaled his intention to restrict federal funding from places the administration labels “anarchist jurisdictions."
The document instructed the Justice Department to identify cities that have allowed “themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” including through moves to “defund the police.” The White House highlighted ongoing unrest in four coastal metropolises: Portland, Ore., Seattle, D.C. — and, of course, New York.
The Democratic leaders of those jurisdictions were quick to punch back. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) said the document was “an attempt to distract” from the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 182,000 people in the United States. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) called it “a new low, even for this president,” while a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) slammed it as a “racist campaign stunt.”
But no one on Wednesday had harsher words for Trump than Cuomo, who said the president had been “dismissed as a clown” by New York and was now trying to act like a king.
“The best thing he did for New York City,” Cuomo said, “was leave.”
A native of the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, Trump spent much of his adult life in the five boroughs, eventually climbing to prominence as a real estate scion in the 1980s. After he had stamped his name on skyscrapers around town, Trump was so tied to the city’s reputation that he made a brief cameo in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York."
Yet nearly three years after nearly 80 percent of the deep-blue city voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump established a pattern of criticizing the city’s policies and moved his residency to Florida.
The White House’s Wednesday memo continued on those attacks, seizing on New York’s recent rise on crime. The memo claimed that state and local officials allowed looting to go on for a week and bemoaning a year-over-year surge in shootings. After the New York City Council slashed its $6 billion police budget by about $1 billion, it noted, the agency disbanded some anti-crime units but rejected the White House’s offer to send in federal law enforcement.
Cuomo did not address that point on the conference call, instead concentrating largely on the federal government’s much criticized response to the pandemic. Amid some Trump-Cuomo family feuding, the governor did get personal — fast.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump had demanded that CNN fire the governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo, over a suggestion from Tucker Carlson that the younger Cuomo has once been accused of sexual harassment. Hours later on the conference call, the governor brought up an audio recording of the president’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, lambasting her brother, that was published by The Post’s Michael Kranish last month.
“Those that know him best like him least. That’s true about New York City, that’s true about his own family,” Cuomo said. “His sister, a former federal judge, is disgraced by him. What does that say about a person?”