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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told shock jock Howard Stern on his radio show Monday he would have “decked” President Donald Trump were he not in his position and needing federal assistance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stern noted that Trump has publicly attacked both the governor and his CNN host brother, Chris Cuomo, the latter of whom he has referred to as “Fredo,” a less-than-bright character from the Mafia movie series “The Godfather.”
Suggesting that the attacks might have provoked the New York Democrat, Stern asked, “Did you have to hold back for the good of New York state?”
“I bit my tongue so many times I have tongue scars,” Cuomo responded. “Here’s the trick, Howard. I want to speak to the better angels. I want to lift people up and I want to show Trump for what he is by opposition.
“I also had the practical situation: I needed him to help New York,” he added. “That was my job. If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would’ve decked him. Period. He was attacking me. He was attacking my family. He was anti-Italian. He was every nasty thing.
“I’m from New York, right, so I’m very sensitive to all ethnic slights,” the governor continued. “It’s not funny. First, the mafia stereotype has been such a stain for Italians for so long—and that’s where they go … when they want to get cheap and nasty.
“He wasn’t attacking my bother to attack my brother. He was attacking him to hurt me,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I said to him, ‘You want to attack me? Attack me. I don’t have a problem with that, but why are you … bringing my brother into it? He’s just doing his job,’” he added.
A video of Chris Cuomo profanely threatening someone at an establishment in New York went viral last year after an unidentified man called him Fredo. In the rant, the CNN host claimed the term was akin to the ’N-word.’
Warning: Strong language
Several people pushed back on his attempt to turn the name into a racist insult including Donald Trump Jr. and senior Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, who is black.
“Did @ChrisCuomo just say that ‘Fredo’ is to Italians what the N word is to black people? Th N word is a dehumanizing word used against blacks who endured years of oppression. Fredo is a term from The Godfather, referring to the dumb brother. Equivocating the two is pure racism,” she wrote on Twitter.
Did @ChrisCuomo just say that “Fredo” is to Italians what the N word is to black people? Th N word is a dehumanizing word used against blacks who endured years of oppression. Fredo is a term from The Godfather, referring to the dumb brother. Equivocating the two is pure racism.
— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) August 13, 2019
In September, Gov. Cuomo had to walk back a perceived threat against President Trump when he said he “better have an army” to protect him if he planned to revisit his hometown New York City in the future.
“He better have an army if he thinks he’s gonna walk down the street in New York. New Yorkers don’t want to have anything to do with him,” said the governor in response to a threat from Trump to cut off federal funding to cities where riots and looting were occurring.
“He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City, people don’t want to have anything to do with him.”
Later, he appeared to walk those remarks back.
“My comment about the president and bodyguards in New York City, all I’m saying is that he is persona non grata in New York City,” Cuomo said.
“And I think he knows that. And he’ll never come back to New York, because New Yorkers will never forget how gratuitously mean he has been to New Yorkers and how many times he’s tried to kill the city that gave him his start and birthed him. That’s what I meant about the bodyguards.”
Cuomo, along with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have been blamed for creating the conditions that have led to hundreds of thousands of former New York City and state residents to flee in recent years, a flight that only accelerated as COVID-19 lockdowns dragged on throughout the summer into the fall.