On Sunday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was interviewed by ABC This Week’s Jon Karl, who asked her about whether President Biden still viewed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as “the gold standard” for state leaders in managing a pandemic in light of the nursing home scandal and how Cuomo was “under fire” for, among other things, his administration’s admission that they hid nursing home stats from state lawmakers.
Psaki’s response at the time, as my colleague Nick Arama reported, was to dodge and weave all over the place and not give a straight answer.
Fast forward just a few days and we are now learning that the White House’s stance on Gov. Cuomo’s “leadership” has subtly shifted, and in a way that is sure to enrage the egotistical governor.
During Thursday’s White House press briefing, Psaki was asked by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy first about the sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo by former aide Lindsey Boylan. Psaki’s response was to give the standard answer about how Biden believed that “when a person comes forward, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect; their voice should be heard, not silenced; and any allegation should be reviewed.”
But when Doocy followed up and asked her — twice — about Cuomo and if Biden still saw him as the “gold standard” in state leadership during a crisis, her answer was different than the one she gave to Jon Karl Sunday (bolded emphasis added):
Well, first of all, I think, to be fair, let’s put all of the comments in context, which sometimes is missing from these conversations we have in here or during interviews. At the time — which was, I believe, April of last year — the President spoke out and said positive things about a range of governors, Democrats and Republicans, who were stepping in when there was a vacuum of leadership at the federal level, when they were getting no information, when they were getting no help and no guidance from the former Trump administration.
He had — he made some positive comments about Governor Cuomo and his role in New York at the time, as he did about a range of governors.
Peter Doocy also asked Jen Psaki the question she refused to answer that ABC’s Jonathan Karl wanted to know on Sunday: “Does President Biden still think Andrew Cuomo is the gold standard for COVID leadership, and he’s doing a hell of a job, which he has said about him?” (2/2) pic.twitter.com/mAtfvPfhsN
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) February 25, 2021
Why would this answer be the ultimate insult to Cuomo? Because she stuck a pin in the balloon and lumped him in with other governors Biden praised at the time rather than making Cuomo sound like he stood out as an exceptional leader worthy of “gold standard” praise. In other words “meh, he praised a lot of governors at the time. So what?”
Psaki’s answer was dishonest, of course, especially when you consider that Cuomo was rumored to have been on Biden’s shortlist in December for Attorney General. Clearly, Biden took a special interest in Cuomo and viewed him as a cut above the rest.
The Biden White House is slowly distancing itself from the man once dubbed by the New York media as the “Luv Guv”, and quite frankly it couldn’t be happening to a more deserving individual. The bonus here is that in doing so, the White House is setting itself up for a public war of words between Biden and Cuomo in the coming months because Cuomo is the kind of politician who will strike back in kind to any perceived snub.
The fireworks on this one just around the corner. Stay tuned!