The high-profile political leaders know each other well and have for several years. Trump has even donated thousands of dollars in the past to advance both Cuomo’s political career and his father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.
Their shared complex history – and their ability to switch between mockery and praise in just hours – has been on full display over the past month, with back and forth lectures that are alternately frosty and supportive.
That dynamic was on full display Thursday night, when the president told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he “agreed” with Cuomo but slammed the governor for wanting tens of thousands of fans, which the president doubts is necessary.
“And they say, like Governor Cuomo and others, who say we want 30,000 of them. 30,000. Think about this,” Trump told Hannity. “You go to hospitals that have, not even have one, in a hospital and suddenly everyone asks for a large number.”
He later added, “But in general, I do very well with Governor Cuomo.”
The relationship between Cuomo and Trump has sometimes disappeared. Trump tweeted earlier this month that Cuomo must “do more.” And Cuomo recently told the federal government this week not to act fast enough to use the Defense Production Act to build more fans.
But behind these flashes of bitterness is a burgeoning working relationship – with Trump particularly focused on Cuomo. The two men interact several times each day, according to sources familiar with their interactions, with the duo speaking up three or four times on certain days.
“The governor is doing a very good job,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I spoke to the governor – Governor Cuomo – last night and this morning.”
Trump added: “I work really hard in New York. That’s the absolute biggest problem. But there are a lot of good capable people working on it with us, and our teams work very hard with state representatives.”
An official at the White House told CNN that Cuomo’s presses have become mandatory views in the West Wing, with New York’s governor’s command and directness driving Trump’s own desire to use the information room every day to run corona virus coverage.
Cuomo’s press conferences are held regularly in the late morning. And while the White House information meetings have moved into the evening – often after 5 pm. ET – There were several occasions early in the response to the coronavirus where Trump’s information meetings have been pushed back as they wait for Cuomo to finish, the White House official added.
However, their approach has been markedly different. Where Cuomo has been unpleasant, Trump has sometimes been ambiguous and disregarded the advice of doctors to propose resuming the US economy earlier than possible.
Trump has also seen and commented on Cuomo’s briefings, and some aides believe the president has tried to adopt some of the governor’s tactics and tone.
Their relationship over the years has fluctuated between hostility and respect.
Cuomo received donations from both Trump and his family members throughout his career. The donations became an issue in Cuomo’s re-election bid for 2018, when his Democratic opponent Cynthia Nixon raised the donations.
“I will be deeply critical of him and keep the contributions,” Cuomo said in 2018, refusing to return the donations.
“Whatever you do, Andrew,” Trump allegedly told Cuomo in the video, “never do, never ever fool.”
“While I will not run for governor of the state of New York, a race that I would have won, I have much bigger plans in mind,” Trump tweeted in 2014.
Times have changed further since the possible run.
Trump, a frequent donor to the Democrats, is now the nation’s top Republican, while Cuomo turned his opposition to Trump a key issue in his latest re-election.
“Mr. Trump, I’ve known you for 30 years,” Cuomo said while driving. “You may be a good seller who fooled many people in this country. But you didn’t fool me.”
Over the past month, the two men have alternated between criticizing and praising each other, with the past three days as the clearest examples.
Trump, during a Fox News City Hall on Tuesday, hit Cuomo for the lack of fans.
“He should have ordered the fans,” Trump said, citing a cautious conservative headline. “And he had a choice. He had a chance.”
The comment came hours after Cuomo hit Trump on the issue.
“There is no other way for us to get these fans,” Cuomo said at his daily press conference. “We’ve tried everything else. The only way we can get these fans is from the federal government. Period.”
But less than 24 hours later, Cuomo’s attacks made way for praise.
“I want to thank the president for his cooperation and his team for their cooperation,” Cuomo said on Wednesday, even backing some of his criticism over the administration’s use of the Defense Production Act.
“The president and his team,” Cuomo said, “use the DPA well because it’s a leverage tool when dealing with private companies.”
Trump returned by saying that Cuomo did a “very good job.”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.