Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is reportedly considering tapping New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be his attorney general should he win the presidency in November.
Axios reported Sunday that the governor — who has been embroiled in controversy in recent months over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in New York — is being pushed for the job and that Biden is considering him.
The news outlet said that some Democrats are so convinced that he would become attorney general that aides at the National Governors Association, currently chaired by Cuomo, are “looking into contingencies for replacing him.”
In response to the news Monday morning, Cuomo insisted that he has “no interest in going to Washington,” but added that he would help Biden “in any way” he could.
He then rehearsed what his response would be if asked by Biden: “I would say, ‘You are an old friend. You are a good friend. You’re going to win this election. You’re going to be the president. I’ll help you any way I can.'”
“I’m a New Yorker. I said I would serve as governor,” he continued. “And those rumors … those are only from people who want to get me out of New York. I don’t know why, but that’s where that’s coming from.”
Should Biden become president, the attorney general position would certainly be one of his most high-profile, politically sensitive appointments, as it is expected that he or she would face pressure to investigate President Trump and his administration for political wrongdoing.
Axios also noted that the potential new attorney general “would manage the federal response to police violence, social unrest and systemic racism, and … could seek to use federal powers to blunt state abortion restrictions.”
Cuomo, who served as New York’s attorney general from 2007 to 2010 and is a longtime friend of Biden’s, would definitely have a foot in the door, though Biden would likely face intense political pressure from the left to appoint a racially diverse cabinet.
Furthermore, Cuomo’s appointment would undoubtedly draw scrutiny from the right given the very public nature of his current job and thus the well-publicized failures of his pandemic leadership.
As the pandemic surged in New York, Cuomo opted to implement lengthy and strict lockdown orders that cast the state into economic turmoil and disproportionately affected religious gatherings. Despite criticism, he stood by the lockdowns — which sought to prevent large gatherings in the state — even while simultaneously supporting Black Lives Matter protests in the streets.
The governor also carelessly oversaw a policy that forced nursing homes to take in COVID-19-positive patients, a move suspected of causing countless deaths as almost half of the state’s virus fatalities occurred in nursing homes. The state department of health has since attempted to erase evidence of the order, and Cuomo has repeatedly denied responsibility.
Then in August, apparently unaware of how it would come across publicly, Cuomo decided he would publish a book highlighting his leadership during the pandemic even as the pandemic raged on.