Cuomo afterward called it “a good conversation,” playing down the sporadic disputes between the two men.
“The president is communicative about his feelings, and I’m communicative about what I think,” Cuomo said on MSNBC. “But look, I think for the president and for myself, this is not about — this is not about anyone’s emotions, about anyone else. I mean, who cares, right? What I feel, what he feels. We have a tremendous job that we have to get done and put everything else aside and do the job. And that was the tone of the conversation, was very functional and effective.”
Cuomo said he asked Trump for help with the supply chain so he could greatly expand testing in New York before reopening businesses and everyday life. He said he also made the case for federal aid to states and localities that was not included in the latest legislation working its way through Congress. He said the president was “very open and understanding” about that.
“I stayed focused on what we were there to talk about, and for me, the substantive agenda was testing — who does what, how do we get it up to scale — and somebody has to stand up for funding for the states,” Cuomo said. “You can talk about small businesses and airlines. How about police? How about fire? How about teachers? And how about funding the reopening?”
Trump did not invite cameras to record the encounter, as he typically does with prominent visitors. But at his daily briefing later in the afternoon, the president said he and the governor were aligned on the issue of testing without elaborating.
“We had a great talk on testing,” Trump said. “We have an agreement, we have an understanding on testing.” He also signaled a willingness to seek aid for states. “I agree with him on that,” he said, “and I think most Republicans agree too, and Democrats.”
The president added that he had worked hard to help New York by helping provide medical equipment and new hospital beds and sending the Navy hospital ship Comfort, which is now no longer needed and so will return to its home port in Virginia. “The federal government has spared no expense or resource to get New Yorkers the care they need and the care they deserve,” Trump said.
The president and governor of different political parties have variously exchanged compliments and argued long distance over the last six weeks as New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States with more than 250,000 reported cases and about 15,000 deaths.
They have been at odds over the provision of equipment like ventilators and over the president’s claim to “absolute” power to overrule governors to reopen businesses, schools and everyday life. “We don’t have a king in this country,” Cuomo said at one point. But at others, he has said Trump has “delivered for New York.”
After Tuesday’s meeting, Cuomo said he did not bother to raise some of their past disputes during their time together in the White House. “You can’t rebut everything,” he said, “so sometimes you just let it go in life.”