The gloves came off between Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo in a brawl about the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo kicked off the interview by bringing up the new COVID-19 case increase in the U.S. Murtaugh said President Trump has been tackling the coronavirus “head-on,” citing the China travel ban and advancements in treatments and vaccines.
Cuomo responded by touting what he presented as Joe Biden’s plans to tackle the virus and attacked Trump for his inaction early on.
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Murtaugh then invoked Cuomo’s own brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He pointed out how the governor credited the Trump administration for providing his state with “everything they needed.” Cuomo denied the claim.
“No. He said, ‘I went to the federal government. They helped me with things. They did not help with everything. They’re still not helping,'” Cuomo claimed.
The Trump campaign spokesman then accused the “Cuomo Prime Time” host of asking “self-righteous questions and talking about people taking it seriously.”
“Does this look like a couple of guys who were taking it seriously?” Murtaugh asked, holding a printed screenshot of Cuomo’s Q-Tip exchange with his brother back in May. “You had your brother on for the Cuomo Brothers Comedy Hour, joking about the size of the Q-Tip that you would need for his nose to take the test.”
“Yeah, I did. It was funny as hell,” Cuomo defended his comedy bit. “Now, you took your swing. It missed. So now let’s discuss. Is that all you got? That my brother didn’t take Covid seriously? Are you kidding yourself? That I made fun with him at a time of such acute distress?”
Cuomo then defended his brother from the ongoing nursing home controversy, insisting that he “never sent any” COVID-positive patients into such facilities, and took a shot at Murtaugh for “refusing to talk about the president” and instead focusing on the New York governor because he was “coming from a place of weakness.” He also told Murtaugh he had “every right to feel righteous.”
Murtaugh accused CNN of using the coronavirus as a “political weapon” and told Cuomo he was “advocating for a complete and total shutdown,” something Cuomo denied.
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“This is not an interview, Chris. This is a lecture,” Murtaugh quipped.
“I’m not trying to lecture. I’m trying to rebut what you put out there,” Cuomo shot back. “You’re the one who lectured me with the picture of my brother and I, which was very funny, a time when our country was hurting.”
“I didn’t think it was that funny,” Murtaugh said.
“Oh, I don’t know if you’re a good judge of humor because you think what the president is saying at these rallies is funny,” Cuomo said.
As Cuomo went on a tirade denouncing the Trump rallies as potential superspreaders, Murtaugh then asked the CNN anchor if he was all about “guideline following.”
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“Why did you get reprimanded by your own apartment building?” Murtaugh asked, referring to the letter he received for not wearing a mask around his building.
“Because I did the wrong thing,” a visibly-frustrated Cuomo quickly responded. “Why won’t the president adjust his messaging?”
Murtaugh then invoked Cuomo’s incident where he allegedly confronted a cyclist who saw him outside his home while he was recovering from the coronavirus. Cuomo denied to Murtaugh he ever broke quarantine.
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“You came home and you pretended to rise up from your basement like Lazarus even though you had already broken quarantine while you were Covid-positive,” Murtaugh said.
“If you want to mock my getting sick, you can,” Cuomo said. “You want me to be the story, you want my brother to be the story because you can’t handle Trump. The numbers were supposed to disappear!”