Cuomo trashed Trump for years, but critics, including Democrats, say they’re cut from the same cloth
Saturday - 07/08/2021 23:10
His name is synonymous with impeachment. His administration is rife with scandal. And his loathsome treatment of women borders on criminal conduct, his critics say.
What has long been the resume of Donald Trump may soon become the curriculum vitae of Andrew Cuomo. Pot, meet kettle. Shoe, say hello to the other foot.
When Cuomo was riding high on the waves of pandemic popularity, such comparisons seemed almost anathema.
But since the governor has been called on the carpet as an alleged serial sexual harasser, pointing out the similarities between Cuomo and the former president of the United States is almost second nature.
“Both Donald Trump and Andrew Cuomo represent privileged men in power who believe they are above the law and do not have to be held accountable,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens). “In New York, Democrats are sending a loud message across this country that we will not be hypocrites and will hold all politicians accountable. The distinction is important for a political party that denounced Trump’s antics, and wants to maintain its hold on Congress and the White House.
“This is a watershed moment for American politics to root out the dominating, toxic and abusive politics that have ruled places like Albany forever,” Kim said.
Kim clashed with Cuomo earlier this year after he criticized the governor’s administration for underreporting COVID-related nursing home deaths. He said Cuomo called him at home and threatened to “destroy” him.
Cuomo’s team denied the encounter. But critics said the confrontation was classic Cuomo in full bully mode. And his refusal to admit any wrongdoing, even in the face of legislative censure over the nursing home scandal, drew comparisons to the man who had become his chief political target.
“Their hubris, their narcissism, the fact that they both come from families with domineering fathers — there is this weird symbiosis that exists between Cuomo and Trump and the way they act,” said former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who famously went to jail for covering up Trump’s “dirty deeds.”
Cohen, whose crimes included paying Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, told The News that Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment was enabled by the same type of loyalists who enabled Trump.
“The Michael Cohens of his world did it,” Cohen said. “There’s this similarity in his ego that’s painfully reminiscent of my days protecting Donald Trump. I’m certain it wasn’t easy for the governor’s protectors, either.”
Michael Caputo, a longtime Trump friend who served as a senior adviser on his 2016 campaign, said he sees a lot of similarities in the way Cuomo and Trump carry themselves, the way they speak and the way each man never backs down from a fight.
“Most of the people I’ve met from Queens carry that same bravado,” Caputo said.
The relationship between the two executives can be described as both complicated and ironic.
It’s complicated, in part, because of the money Trump has donated over the years to the political campaigns of both Cuomo and his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
The current governor said he never saw a conflict with the contributions, not even in 2018 during his re-election bid after a high-profile political rival, actress and Democratic gubernatorial opponent Cynthia Nixon, raised the issue.
“I’m going to be deeply critical of him and keep the contributions,” Cuomo said, refusing to return the money.
The relationship is ironic, in part, because of their similar history with women.
The irony is best illustrated in a New York Times story about a 1990 bachelor party in Cuomo’s honor. Cuomo was about to marry into the into the acclaimed Kennedy clan. “Cuomolot,” the union was dubbed.
Trump, meanwhile, was in the throes of a messy divorce from Ivana Trump.
Trump did not attend the bachelor party, held at a Manhattan bar. But he sent a lighthearted video with a bit of advice.
“Whatever you do, Andrew,” Trump told Cuomo in the video, “don’t ever, ever fool around.”
Years later, the relationship soured, so much so that Trump briefly entertained the idea of running for governor against Cuomo in 2014.
Trump changed his mind when the state Republican Party would not unify behind him.
“While I won’t be running for Governor of New York State, a race I would have won, I have much bigger plans in mind,” Trump tweeted.
Two years later, Trump was elected president.
But before long, Trump found himself the target of impeachment, over allegations that he had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election to help his re-election bid, and then obstructed the investigation.
Now, impeachment winds are circling around Cuomo after an investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James said Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
Like Trump, Cuomo has resisted calls to resign. The difference, Caputo said, is that Cuomo has little support, even within his own party.
“He has bricked himself into a corner, and I don’t think he’s coming out unless he’s dragged out.” Caputo said. “And that’s because he’s burned every bridge that’s not named after his father. Will he resign before he is impeached? I don’t think it’s in his DNA. It’s not in his genetic code.”
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, said there is another similarity between Trump and Cuomo.
“He lies,” Williams said of the governor. “He just always lies. There’s a lot of Trump-like qualities with Cuomo. People try to pretend that’s not true. One of them is the ability to lie and act like he’s not lying. It’s just astonishing. I think he actually might believe he didn’t do these things. He probably believes everything doesn’t apply to him.”
Williams said that while Cuomo’s legacy is shot, resigning would allow him to at least avoid even more comparisons to Trump.
“They’re clear to some of us now,” Williams said. “If he remains, they’ll be clearer to everybody else.”