New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is mired in a major controversy prompting calls for him to resign, yet when meeting with President Joe Biden Friday to discuss the topic behind the controversy — COVID-19 — the men never discussed the matter?
That’s the story from White House press secretary Jen Psaki and she’s sticking it to it.
Cuomo met with Biden in the Oval Office last week after one of the governor’s aides revealed his administration concealed the number of deaths in these facilities out of concern the numbers would “be used against us” by the Justice Department, according to Fox News.
Psaki told reporters during Tuesday’s daily briefing that there were other states and cities represented at the meeting, which she said was focused on Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill. She added that the exploding Cuomo scandal “was not a focus of their conversation or a topic.”
.@PressSec was asked today if Biden and Cuomo talked about NY nursing homes at the White House on Friday, when Cuomo was there with other governors and mayors to talk COVID relief.
“So, no, that was not a focus of their conversation or a topic.” pic.twitter.com/eC4pCigt72
— Joseph Spector (@GannettAlbany) February 16, 2021
“The focus of the meeting was on the president providing an update on his plans to help get the pandemic under control, to discuss with them the American Rescue Plan and, in a large group meeting, have a discussion about what the challenges were that were facing governors and mayors — you heard some of the mayors come out here. So no, that was not a focus of their conversation or a topic,” the press secretary said.
And while Arkansas’ Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave a press conference on the White House driveway after the meeting, Fox News reported that the “usually press-courting New York governor hid from reporters during his Friday jaunt to D.C.”
At Friday’s press briefing, Psaki was reminded by a reporter of Biden talking about the importance of having clear, open, transparent communication with the public.
He then dropped the question, “Does the president have confidence in Gov. Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic and did they discussed that step?”
The president’s spokesperson responded by dodging the question.
“Well, the president hosted Governor Cuomo and a bipartisan group of governors and mayors to the White House today to get their perspective from the frontlines. Not to give anyone a stamp of approval or to seek their stamp of approval, and to discuss the urgency of passing the American Rescue Plan,” Psaki said.
“Governor Cuomo is, of course, the governor of one of the largest states in the country, one of the places where the pandemic hit hardest, the earliest, where there are still many Americans who are continuing to struggle to get vaccinated, to make ends meet. And so it was important to have him as part of the meeting,” she added.
Which is not to say the press secretary is as tightlipped on all matters of importance.
In an attempt to sell the softer side of the administration and give their adoring media allies something to coo over, Psaki tweeted a video Tuesday answering some questions about “controversial and divisive” issues — like pineapple on pizzas.
I’ve gotten a ton of great questions on Twitter since our last video, so I took some time to answer a few more here. We covered a lot of ground — from what we are doing on vaccines, to how @POTUS is helping small businesses, to an update on Major and Champ. pic.twitter.com/X9P48csp9S
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 16, 2021
The questions are purportedly from social media users and Psaki responded in a slow, deliberate manner on a number of important issues, like Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill and COVID-19 vaccinations, as if she’s speaking to children. Naturally, she puts a favorable spin on the answers.
On a lighter side, she threw in the question about pizza.
“We would like to know your thoughts about a very controversial and divisive issue — drum roll please — pineapple on pizza?” Psaki said, reading a question received.
“That is gross,” she answered. “I’m not for that. I’m for green peppers and onions, but everybody has their different point of view.”
“We’re here to accept everybody’s pizza views,” she added — if only Democrats applied that standard to political views.
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