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Flattery of Trump will get Cuomo into the Oval Office Tuesday

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence show clips from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's coronavirus briefing during Sunday's White House briefing. Credit: AP / Patrick Semansky

Newsday is opening this story to all readers so Long Islanders have access to important information about the coronavirus outbreak. All readers can learn the latest news at

Two Queens guys gonna talk

President Donald Trump's hate-like-hate-like-hate-like relationship with Andrew M. Cuomo is back on the friendly side — so much so that Trump invited New York's Democratic governor to meet with him in the Oval Office Tuesday.

It wasn't long ago — Friday, to be exact — that Trump hate-watched and live-tweeted angrily during a Cuomo coronavirus briefing at which the governor said states needed more federal help with coronavirus testing. "Governor Cuomo should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining,’ ” Trump wrote.

Cuomo responded by mocking Trump as seeming to be needy for praise. “I don’t know, what am I supposed to do? Send a bouquet of flowers?” Cuomo said. Addressing Trump, Cuomo said he was "just doing your job as president. It’s not really 'thank you' like you wrote a check yourself, but thank you.”

But the governor offered enough positive remarks over the weekend for the White House to patch together two videos of Cuomo compliments, which Trump played at his briefing that day. Among Cuomo's words Trump liked were "phenomenal accomplishment" and "extraordinary efforts." The president observed: “I just think it’s so good because it’s bipartisan.”

After Cuomo said states should lead on testing, Trump praised his efforts at Monday's White House briefing. "They're really getting it together in New York," where the daily coronavirus death toll, while still in the hundreds, is slowly declining, the president said. “He's coming to the Oval Office tomorrow afternoon,” Trump added. “Andrew is going to be coming in with some of his people, so we look forward to that.”

Expect Cuomo to use his moment on the president's good side to bring an agenda that hasn't been in the Trump-shown video clips. The governor said Monday that he might look to cut aid to schools, hospitals and local governments 20% if Washington doesn’t send more money to states to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, reports Newsday's Yancey Roy.

Trump has indicated he's open to helping states and local governments in a future aid package, not the one Congress is trying to finish this week to shore up relief programs for small businesses.

This is not a drill

Trump last week touted a deal brokered with Saudi Arabia and Russia to curb oil shipments in an effort to prop up prices and domestic producers. It's not working, at least not yet.

U.S. oil futures prices plunged to their lowest-ever level by far on Monday: -$37.63 per barrel. That's not a typo. It's minus-$37.63 a barrel. That means owners of May futures contracts were paying to offload them.

Looking for a positive side, Trump has noted gas prices have dropped to their lowest level in decades. But that's of limited benefit to people who can't go anywhere. Worldwide demand has cratered because of the pandemic, and crude prices with it. The supply cuts agreed to by the Saudis and Russians won't take effect until next month. 

Trump said Monday the U.S. is “looking” to add as many as 75 million barrels of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — "we’d get it for the right price” — and pointed out that prices for June futures point to a modest rebound for the market.

Janison: Pandemic doesn't break pattern

The pandemic was something new, but Trump's pattern of behavior was not, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.

Trump never renounces people with extreme views whose support he cherishes. Protesters against state and local government stay-at-home measures win his vague approval in tweets. 

As before, Trump's expressions of contempt are aimed at mainstream Democrats. Once again a federal giveaway has helped the well-fixed. Independent oversight for the latest massive new government-spending programs? Just as you'd expect, Trump wants none of it. The old double game on China endures even as the focus shifts from trade to disease.

Trump's finger-pointing at his predecessor has reached one of its more comical levels in "We really inherited bad tests." This makes absolutely no sense, as President Barack Obama left office in 2017 and coronavirus arrived a few months ago.

Fauci: Careful what you wish for

While Trump is praising protesters in various states who want stay-at-home orders lifted, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that easing up too soon would "backfire" and further delay the reopening of the economy.

"Clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen," the government's top infectious diseases expert said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back," he said. "So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem."

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll published Monday found 60% of Americans oppose the protesters, while 22% support them. Among Republicans, 47% to 36% disagree with the protests.

Republican governors in three Southern states — Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina — announced plans to ease their coronavirus lockdowns. Georgia's shelter-in-place order will remain active until April 30, but indoor facilities including gyms, bowling alleys and salons will be allowed to reopen Friday as long as they follow social distancing requirements and other safety rules.

Relief package almost ready?

The Senate is expected to come into session Tuesday afternoon amid hopes that negotiations on the latest coronavirus relief package will produce an agreement.

The Senate missed a potential deadline Monday and frustrations are mounting, but the emerging $450 billion draft measure — originally designed as an interim step aimed at replenishing payroll subsidies for smaller businesses — has grown into the second-largest of the four coronavirus response bills so far.

Democrats’ demands for more money for hospitals and virus testing will be in the expected legislation. Not in the current plan: aid to cash-strapped states and local governments whose revenue have plummeted.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC: "Right now, Donald Trump is not doing anything to help my city back on its feet.” For more on that, see Newsday's story by Michael O'Keeffe.

Still testy out there

While all is calm with Cuomo, Trump accused other Democratic governors of playing “a very dangerous political game” by insisting there is a shortage of tests for coronavirus. He's not too happy either with a Republican, Larry Hogan of Maryland.

While Trump blasted state leaders for being too dependent on the federal response, Vice President Mike Pence assured governors the government was working round-the-clock to help them ramp up testing.

Hogan said much of the unused lab machinery listed as available for his state by the administration was in federal labs to which the state does not have access. Pence agreed to open up federal labs to help states. But Trump belittled Hogan anyway. “He didn’t really understand what was going on,” the president said.

Fauci said in his morning interview that the country is currently running about 1.5 million to 2 million tests per week, but “we really need to get up to, at least, you know, maybe two times that, three times that.”

Trump orders immigration halt

Trump on Monday night tweeted that he was "temporarily" suspending immigration to the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic.

How and when the order would be carried out wasn't explained late Monday.

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond by Newsday's reporting staff, written by Bart Jones. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • Trump’s company posted a video on Twitter earlier this month in which pro golfer John Daly suggests drinking a bottle of vodka per day “kills” coronavirus. It does not, and health officials say it could weaken a person's immune system. The Washington Post writes.
  • The United States, Canada and Mexico will extend restrictions barring nonessential travel across their shared borders for another 30 days, the Trump administration announced Monday.
  • Mike Bloomberg spent $1.05 billion from his personal fortune on his failed presidential campaign, according to a financial report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission. He won only one contest, American Samoa, before dropping out from the Democratic primaries on March 4.
  • The pandemic may keep the Libertarian and Green party presidential nominees off the ballot in many of this year’s key states because of the added hurdle to gathering petition signatures, Politico reports. That lessens the chance of third parties acting as spoilers.
  • Michigan residents favor Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's handling of coronavirus over that of Trump, according to a poll done for the Detroit Regional Chamber that was released Monday and reported by The Detroit News. The approach by the governor, who Trump has at times derided, was favored by 57%. Trump's handling of the crisis got 44% approval.
  • The Washington Post offers a perspective on Trump's daily coronavirus briefings. An excerpt: It happens around happy hour, or what used to be happy hour before social distancing restrictions. And like any happy hour, it starts late, runs long and you end up stuck with some guy who loves to hear himself talk.

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