© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cuomo continues Trump critique; opponents want him to focus on New York's problems

WBFO file photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to rail against President Donald Trump on Wednesday. But some of his political opponents say the governor needs to talk more about issues related to New York state.

At an appearance at the State Fair, Cuomo commented on the felony conviction of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, in federal court in Virginia and the guilty plea from Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, where Cohen implicated the president in a crime.

“Manafort and Cohen, I think, are not just embarrassing for the president, and not just inherently condemning of the president. This was his lawyer and his campaign chairman,” Cuomo said. “There's not a lot of distance between those points.”

Cuomo said if Trump were to pardon Cohen, it would be a “de facto silencing of a witness against him.” And the governor said that would be “tantamount to obstruction of justice” and an impeachable offense.

Recently, Cuomo had to walk back remarks from a few days ago where he said America “was never that great.” He said he was “inartful” when he expressed the view that the nation still has a ways to go to achieve equality for all. Since then, he has devoted most of his public statements and portions of his Twitter feed to condemning the president and his actions.

On Sunday, Cuomo spoke to a receptive audience at the First Baptist Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he referred to the president as “King Trump” and “the divider in chief.”

“And I have a message for the president: Mr. Trump, I've known you for 30 years. You may be a slick salesman, who fooled many people in this country, but you didn't fool me and you didn't fool New Yorkers,” Cuomo said to cheers from the church audience. “We know who you are and we're going to rise up and tell this nation the truth about who you are, because when the voice of division is raised, a chorus of unity must rise in response. And when a voice of anger and hate is raised, a chorus of hope and love must be raised in response.”

Cuomo’s opponents in the governor’s race say he needs to focus more on New York’s problems and ways to resolve them.

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who is running as an independent candidate for governor, said the state has lost over a million people in the eight years Cuomo has been in office, and his economic development programs haven’t worked.

“There are a lot of shortcomings,” Miner said. “And having been in charge of that for eight years, he’s got to answer for that. And apparently he doesn’t want to.”

Miner said the governor’s administration has its own corruption problems. And she finds it ironic that the governor is quick to link Trump to the crimes of the president’s former campaign manager and chief fixer, when Cuomo’s campaign manager and fixer, former top aide Joe Percoco, was convicted on federal bribery charges and awaits sentencing this fall. Other former Cuomo associates are facing prison time for bid-rigging.

“For a person who lives in a glass house, he shouldn’t be throwing stones,” Miner said.

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Cynthia Nixon, held a news conference Wednesday outside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. She and her supporters demanded that Cuomo give back $64,000 in campaign donations he received from Trump during Cuomo’s 2002 unsuccessful campaign for governor and for his run for attorney general in 2006.

Nixon said it’s hypocritical to keep the money.

“Cuomo didn’t have an excuse before for keeping Trump’s money,” Nixon said. “But he definitely doesn’t have any excuse now.”

Cuomo said in July that he did not intend to return the money. On Wednesday, in response to a question about accepting large campaign donations in general, he said he was not swayed by the views of a donor.

“If you are a person who is influenced by donors, you shouldn’t be in this business,” Cuomo said.

Later, a spokesperson for Cuomo’s campaign, Lis Smith, tweeted a response, saying “the joke” is on Trump and Nixon because Cuomo is using the money to help elect more Democrats to public office.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.