I’m trying to think of another example of one powerful pol knifing another powerful pol this gleefully during a scandal when they’re from the same state *and* the same party. Normally basic rules of partisan politesse require you to at least not appear enthusiastic about the political pain your rival is suffering, especially if that rival is more powerful than you and your office requires his cooperation to get things done in your city.
All of that is out the window with Bill de Blasio. It was an open secret before now that he detests Cuomo, as so many other New York politicians do, but there’s not even a pretense of a secret left after the appearances he’s made today to savage Cuomo for his sexual harassment scandal. He’s gone out of his way to do TV interviews just because they afford him extra opportunities to kick Cuomo in the teeth.
As you’re about to see, he’s having the time of his life.
It started this morning with a chat with Hot 97 radio in NYC. Does he think Cuomo might have harassed his staff? Uh, totally, says de Blasio, not even pretending to give Cuomo the benefit of the doubt. He’s enough of a dick to everyone in everyday life that of course he might have crossed a line with a woman staffer:
"It's just disgusting. Creepy. I've seen so many situations where [Gov. Cuomo] was abusive to people…" – @NYCMayor on allegations of sexual harassment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo towards former aide.
— HOT 97 (@HOT97) March 1, 2021
Later he held his weekly press conference and made a point of suggesting that there may be more accusers to come:
Mayor de Blasio on sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Cuomo: "I think more and more people will be talking about what they have experienced…This is not the way a leader should treat anybody. What these women went through is unacceptable." pic.twitter.com/loL1xKTT5r
— VINnews (@VINNews) March 1, 2021
Then he wrapped up his afternoon by swinging by Jake Tapper’s nationally televised CNN show to stress that Cuomo should resign if the Lindsey Boylan or Charlotte Bennett allegations are true:
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says "of course" Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) should resign if the sexual harassment allegations against him are proven to be true.
"There's just no way he can govern." pic.twitter.com/4s1e6jWctD
— The Recount (@therecount) March 1, 2021
You’re in a dark place politically when Bill de Blasio is dunking on you at will.
Cuomo probably doesn’t care that a deeply unpopular Democrat is giving him a hard time today. He may care about this:
Key financial backers of Andrew Cuomo are pausing and reevaluating their support for the New York governor, who has been accused of sexual harassment by two female former aides, according to people directly involved in fundraising…
“No one is giving to him now. Everything is on hold,” one finance executive said…
“They’re more in a wait-and-see mode. If this blows over, they don’t want to have gotten on the wrong side of the governor,” one person said. “So they’re in a wait-and-see mode, meaning not writing a check now but also not willing to completely cut him off yet.”
State legislators are also starting to waver, fearing that de Blasio is right about more accusers coming forward. One Democratic state senator, a deputy leader in his caucus, said today that “We’ll wait for the report [on the AG’s investigation], but I do believe that something needs to be done ultimately. And whether or not the governor can continue is an open question.” Impeachment would be a heavy lift, requiring two-thirds of the state senate to convict, and that body is currently controlled by Cuomo’s own party, 40-23. Has he alienated enough people in state government to convince nearly half of his own party’s caucus to flip on him?
Unlikely. But if de Blasio feels this strongly about him, imagine how other Dems who’ve dealt with his bullying for years must feel.
Possibly the biggest setback Cuomo’s suffered is having his detractors sneer at the half-apology he put out yesterday, in which he claimed that his friendly banter with staff may have been misinterpreted as flirty and apologized for the miscommunication. De Blasio nailed him on that too: “Sexual harassment is not funny,” he said in the radio interview posted above. “I mean, who the hell tries to explain that by saying I was just joking around?” More damning, though, was Bennett’s reaction to his quasi-apology, accusing him of refusing to take responsibility for his “predatory behavior”:
“As we know, abusers — particularly those with tremendous amounts of power — are often repeat offenders who engage in manipulative tactics to diminish allegations, blame victims, deny wrongdoing and escape consequences,” Ms. Bennett said. “It took the governor 24 hours and significant backlash to allow for a truly independent investigation. These are not the actions of someone who simply feels misunderstood; they are the actions of an individual who wields his power to avoid justice.”
She’s now being represented by Debra Katz, whom you may remember from Christine Blasey Ford’s team during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. That’s a heavy hitter legally who’s now involved in this fiasco. Maybe it’s time for Cuomo to sit down with a friendly interviewer to do some damage control in the form of an unchallenging soft-focus conversation. I know just the guy.