WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has had an on-again, off-again relationship with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the nation has responded to coronavirus.
It appears Trump was ready to pick up the fight again Tuesday.
During a Fox News town hall filmed in the Rose Garden, Trump slammed Cuomo for not ordering ventilators years ago. The president pointed to reports that Cuomo, a Democrat, chose to ration the state’s supply of emergency ventilators rather than order more in 2015.
New York has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States.
“I’m not blaming him or anyone else,” Trump said before quickly adding that: “He’s supposed to be buying his own ventilators.”
Trump’s remarks were the latest instance in which he has said states should take the lead in ordering medical equipment to confront the virus. Cuomo and other state officials say they have struggled to buy that equipment and desperately need it.
Democrats have pressed Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to require companies to expand production of the equipment. Trump has been hesitant to do so and has said that private companies have voluntarily ramped up production.
In the town hall, Trump repeatedly said that the federal government has stepped in to help New York with medical facilities and equipment.
“We sent them ventilators,” Trump said. “They can’t blame us for that.”
The more combative position seemed to represent a departure from the president’s thoughts on Cuomo just hours earlier.
“I spoke with Governor Cuomo. He’s working hard,” Trump said on Monday. “We’re all working hard together. The relationship has really been amazing.”