Is this a legitimate Biden administration leak, a trial balloon or just wishful thinking? There’s a case to be made for all three possibilities, but the buzz inside the swamp this weekend suggests that Joe Biden is seriously looking at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a possible pick for Attorney General. People from New York State are all too familiar with Cuomo, but at least some of them would probably be happy to see this happen. Of course, if Uncle Joe does make this call, he’s got to be aware of the massive amount of baggage that Cuomo brings along with him. (Associated Press)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of several contenders under consideration by President-elect Joe Biden for the role of attorney general, a person with knowledge of the search process said Friday.
The other three contenders at the moment include former Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, said the person, who cautioned that no decision had been reached and no announcement was expected imminently.
The person was not authorized to discuss the search process by name and spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press.
Being on the shortlist doesn’t assure anyone of getting the nod, but you can see why Biden’s team might be leaning toward Cuomo if only for the optics. The mainstream media was tripping over itself to praise Cuomo for his daily briefings on the coronavirus over the summer and fall, with some referring to the New York governor as the “shadow president.” The Attorney General obviously has no direct role to play in such matters, but Biden ran on a promise to “beat the virus” and having Cuomo on his team might be seen as a way to reinforce that message.
I’ll admit that if Andrew Cuomo turns out to be the pick, Biden can at least claim that it wasn’t a purely political appointment. At least on paper, Cuomo certainly has all of the minimum boxes checked on his resume. He has a law degree and he served as the state Attorney General of New York before being elected as governor. But such a move could be kind of awkward when you recall that Cuomo made an unequivocal statement back in April, saying he wasn’t running for president, vice president, or anything else and that “I’m not going to Washington.”
Cuomo also brings a lot of baggage with him, as I mentioned above. All through the entire time he’s been governor, Cuomo has been dogged by scandals that took down many of his closest advisors and major donors. The entire saga of an initiative known as the “Buffalo billion” was littered with cases of Cuomo aides and cronies going to prison (more than one of them) or barely avoiding time behind bars through plea deals. How that many corrupt politicos managed to take the fall without Cuomo himself winding up on trial remains something of a mystery, but it’s no secret in New York that Andrew Cuomo (much like his father before him) has never exactly been seen as being pure as the driven snow.
Speaking as a resident of New York, I’ll just say that I’m kind of torn on this question. From a purely selfish perspective, I wouldn’t mind seeing Cuomo shipped off to Washington so he can’t do any more damage back home. But then we’d all be stuck with his liberal policies and dubious ethics on a national scale. Also, if Cuomo resigns, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would step up to become governor, opening the door for a new second fiddle. That could wind up being the state’s current AG, Letitia James, who has been nothing short of a disaster. And it would bring James one step closer to her blatantly obvious desire to become governor herself with an eye on a national office beyond that.
All things considered, maybe we’re all better off if Biden takes a pass on Cuomo. None of his other choices would be quite as inflammatory. Giving it to Doug Jones would basically just be a consolation prize after his tenure in the Senate was cut short. Merrick Garland might be a less optimal choice since Biden is probably still likely to nominate him to the Supreme Court if there’s an opening, if only as a nod to the Obama faithful. Sally Yates would fall into the same category as part of the old Obama team and would probably be a fairly vanilla choice, having already served as the Deputy AG.