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CNN host Chris Cuomo and Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh got into a wild, and sometimes personal, exchange Monday during a discussion about the White House’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The interview took a personal twist when Murtaugh held up a screenshot graphic of the younger CNN host mocking his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with a giant Q-tip during a controversial interview over the summer.
Initially, Murtaugh made several points regarding the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the virus, including shutting down travel to China early and developing treatments and a vaccine, the latter of which is expected to be rolled out before the end of the year.
Cuomo countered with points of his own to essentially claim that the administration hasn’t done enough in terms of tamping down the spread of the virus — which has managed to infect the president and first lady, White House staff, Vice President Mike Pence’s staff, and staffers for Joe Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
After countering Cuomo, Murtaugh insisted that the host’s own governor brother has praised the Trump administration’s response.
“Your own brother, the governor of New York, said that every time he turned to the administration, the federal government was there with everything,” Murtaugh said.
Chris Cuomo countered, “He did not say that. And that is not what happened.”
“Yes, he absolutely did,” Murtaugh fired back as the two began to talk over each other.
“No,” Chris Cuomo pushed back. “He said I went to the federal government. They helped me with things. They did not help me with everything. They’re still not helping.”
“Go ahead, My brother what?” the CNN host continued, allowing Murtaugh to respond.
“Your brother predicted a ventilator shortage. He said he needed 40,000 ventilators or people would die. That shortage never materialized,” said Murtaugh.
“True,” Chris Cuomo said.
In addition, President Trump ordered a Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, to New York to aid in relieving the city’s hospitals as they struggled to handle an influx of COVID patients. He also ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to set up a massive field hospital at the Javits Center. Neither facility was used to any great extent. The New York Post reported that the Comfort only treated 182 patients, while another 1,100 were treated at the Javits Center, “a small, but impactful contribution for desperately overwhelmed hospitals, according to officials on the ground,” the paper said.
“The president engaged the private sector and the government to create the equipment, the PPE, the gowns, the gloves and the ventilators that we needed,” Murtaugh told the CNN host before the interview really went off the rails.
“Listen, Chris, I find it curious, speaking of your brother, you’re going to ask me these self-righteous questions and talk about people taking it seriously,” Murtaugh continued.
“Does this look like a couple of guys taking it seriously,” Murtaugh then added, holding up the picture of the Cuomo’s laughing over the prop joke. “You had your brother on for the Cuomo brother comedy hour, joking about the size of the Q-tip you would need for his nose for the test. Does this look like someone who is taking it seriously?”
Interrupting, Chris Cuomo fired back, “Yeah, I did, it was funny as hell.”
Both men started talking over each other again before an angry Chris Cuomo laid down a marker.
“Tim, I’m telling you. I will cut you off. You are not going to flood the zone on this show,” he told the Trump campaign spokesman. “You took your swing. You missed. That’s the best you got, is that my brother didn’t take Covid seriously? Are you kidding yourself?”
A few minutes later, the conversation got personal again.
“I’m about a president sending the right message and giving states what they need to fight a pandemic,” Cuomo said.
“Then why did you get reprimanded in your own apartment building?” Murtaugh responded, a reference to Cuomo being sent a letter from the apartment management staff for “entering and exiting the building and riding the elevator without the required face coverings.”
“Because I did the wrong thing,” the host shot back.
“Why did you get reprimanded from your apartment building for not wearing a mask? We know you broke quarantine…” Murtaugh responded.
“Because I did the wrong thing…I never broke quarantine,” Cuomo said.
“Everyone knows you broke it,” Murtaugh fired back, referencing an April incident in which Cuomo got into an altercation with a New York City resident when he was supposed to be in quarantine after contracting the virus.
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