Psaki gets cornered on whether Biden still believes Cuomo’s pandemic response is ‘gold standard’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Sunday refused to say whether President Joe Biden still believes Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 response is the model for the country, given his burgeoning nursing home scandal.

During an appearance on ABC News’ “This Week,” host Jonathan Karl played Psaki a clip of then-candidate Biden telling an interviewer Cuomo’s policies were the “gold standard” before noting that, in recent weeks, reports have surfaced indicating Cuomo’s administration lied about the number of COVID deaths in nursing homes after he ordered eldercare facilities to accept virus-sickened patients last March. 

In addition, Karl noted that Cuomo is being accused of misleading New York State lawmakers, and that Assemblyman Ronald Kim (D-Queens) has said Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him if he cooperated with federal investigators who are conducting a probe of his administration.

“Does President Biden still consider Andrew Cuomo the gold standard when it comes to leadership on the pandemic?” Karl asked.

(Source: ABC News)

“Well, Jon, we work with Governor Cuomo, just like we work with governors across the country. He’s also chair of the NGA,” Psaki said, a reference to the National Governors Association. “So, he plays an important role in ensuring that we’re coordinating closely and getting assistance out to people of his state and to states across the country. And we’ll continue to do that.

“Of course, there’ll be a process, investigations, we’ll leave that to others, the appropriate law enforcement authorities, to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward,” she continued. “But we are going to continue to work with a range of governors including, of course, Gov. Cuomo.”

Unsatisfied, Karl pressed Psaki again.

“All right. But, Jen, my question was, does President Biden still believe that Andrew Cuomo is the gold standard – represents the gold standard on leadership during this pandemic? Just a yes or no. Does he still consider him a gold standard?” Karl asked.

“Well, it doesn’t always have to be a yes or no answer, Jon,” she responded. “I think the president is focused on his goals, his objectives as president of the United States.

“He’s going to continue to work with Governor Cuomo, just like he’ll continue to work with governors across the country,” she continued. “And I’m 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.”

Kim told the “Skullduggery” podcast on Friday that New York’s Democrat-controlled state assembly is “inching toward” opening an impeachment inquiry of Cuomo following recent revelations his administration purposefully hid the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in the state.

He also said he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators looking into the matter.

“Of course, I’m prepared to comply and spend as much time handing over as much evidence as they want,” he told the podcast, adding he expects to be contacted “very soon” by investigators.

The FBI, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, are reportedly looking into whether Cuomo’s alleged hiding of data was criminal.

In late January, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report that said an investigation by her office determined that Cuomo’s administration undercounted COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by at least 50 percent.

And earlier this month, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitted in a phone call with state Democratic lawmakers that the governor’s office hid the number of deaths out of fear of a federal investigation by the former Trump administration.

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Jon Dougherty

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