White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has been accused by critics of blatantly dodging questions about NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s controversies, including a probe into whether nursing home deaths from Covid-19 were underreported.
On top of the accusations the New York governor underreported nursing home deaths for political purposes, he has also been accused by a state lawmaker of threatening to “destroy” him if he did not release a public statement supporting the governor. Recent months have also seen a sexual harassment allegation come forth. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing in all of these cases.
Before numerous controversies were seemingly poisoning Cuomo’s public image, however, President Joe Biden counted himself among the governor’s many fans, even calling him the “gold standard” for leadership during the pandemic.
Psaki was on Sunday asked by ABC’s Jonathan Karl to revisit this statement in light of the investigation and other news about Cuomo, but it quickly became clear she wasn’t going to address the issues.
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“We work with Gov. Cuomo just like we work with governors across the country,” Psaki said.
Cuomo, she added, “plays an important role in ensuring that we’re coordinating closely in getting assistance out to people in his state and to state’s across the country” as the chair of the National Governors Association.” The White House, she said, will “continue” working with Cuomo and leave the investigation up to the proper authorities.
Asked for a “yes or no” on whether the president still views Cuomo as the “gold standard,” Psaki refused to give a straight answer.
“It doesn’t always have to be a yes or no answer, Jon,” she said, adding she is “not here to give new labels or names from the president.”
“I’m here to communicate with you about what our focuses are and what his objectives are as president,” she snapped, ending the Cuomo talk.
Biden’s press secretary repeatedly refuses to condemn Andrew Cuomo’s actions that led to the deaths of thousands of elderly New York nursing home residents. pic.twitter.com/0VPApRtUV2
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) February 21, 2021
Psaki’s sidestepping has ruffled the feathers of numerous Cuomo critics, including Fox News’ Janice Dean, whose in-laws died from Covid-19 early in the pandemic in New York nursing homes. Dean has since been a vocal opponent to Cuomo, often highlighting his early order nursing homes be forced to accept Covid-19 as leading to thousands of elderly deaths.
“Shame. On. Her,” Dean tweeted about Psaki.
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) February 21, 2021
“Shameful,” ‘The View’ co-host Meghan McCain echoed in her own tweet.
Biden called Cuomo's coronavirus handling the "gold standard" & gave him a primetime slot at the DNC to contrast him with Trump, so it's not surprising that Psaki is unable to condemn sending coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes & trying to cover up the consequences. https://t.co/OZgGYx9sG0
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 21, 2021
Note also the fearlessness Mr. Karl displays, “uh… um [please forgive me for asking you this, Jen]…,” from his anchor desk.https://t.co/FvGqxLScTZ
— Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) February 21, 2021
JON KARL: Jen, my question was, does President Biden still believe that Andrew Cuomo represents the 'gold standard' on leadership during this pandemic? Just a yes or no.
JEN PSAKI: Jon, the president, the president, well, it doesn't always have to be a yes or no answer."
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 21, 2021
During a White House press briefing earlier this month, Psaki refused to directly comment on the Cuomo investigation. The New York governor was one of many to visit Biden to discuss strategies for combating Covid-19 and getting people vaccinated.
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