NY’s Cuomo Says Talk With Trump ‘Honest and Open’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, March 30, 2020. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri/File Photo)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he had a “functional and effective” conversation with President Donald Trump on Tuesday and tried to keep the focus on testing and state budget problems.

“We have a tremendous job that we have to get done and put everything else aside and do the job, and the tone of the conversation was very functional and effective,” Cuomo said in an interview with MSNBC after the White House meeting.

“I stayed focused on what we were there to talk about and for me the substantive agenda was testing – ‘Who does what? How do we get it up the scale?’ – and somebody has to stand up for funding for the states.”

The New York governor, a Democrat who has clashed with Trump during the outbreak, did not discuss details of their talk, but described the meeting as “honest and open.”

“The president is communicative about his feelings and I’m communicative about what I think,” he said.

With social distancing and lockdowns showing some positive results, Cuomo said on Monday he could begin to consider how to reopen a state that ranges from New York City, with more than 8 million people, to farm country and sparsely populated towns.

The White House did not immediately provide an account of the meeting.

Cuomo said he sought a face-to-face conversation with the Republican president to hash out issues around the need for more testing capability.

“We have to get this ironed out. This is a very big issue. It’s important for states that have a more difficult time reopening like New York. It is how you educate yourself as you’re making your reopening decisions,” Cuomo said.

He said testing volume needed to increase tenfold and leaders needed to discuss how the federal government can help and what the states can do to make enough tests available.

“That is the issue for the country right now I think,” Cuomo said. “It’s a benchmark – ‘Where are we? Are we on the increase, are we on the plateau or are we on the descent?'”