Governor Cuomo blasts President Trump photo op: 'Here in NY, we actually read the Bible'

NEW YORK -- In a clear rebuke of President Donald Trump's Bible-holding photo op, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday read passages about peace from the scripture and then observed that "here in New York, we actually read the Bible."

On Monday, peaceful George Floyd protesters were forcibly removed from outside the White House so that President Trump could leave the building to shoot photos of himself holding a Bible outside a church that had been set ablaze by protesters.

Cuomo began his daily coronavirus briefing by reading those passages from the holy book, including from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, the third chapter of the Gospel of Mark and the 34th Psalm of the Book of Psalms, passages that encourage peace and unity, in clear contrast to the president's recent rhetoric urging force to be used against protesters.

Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday denied he had ordered the protesters be forcibly moved.

"When I said, 'Go to the church,' I didn't know protesters or not," Trump said "Nobody tells me that. They say, 'Yes sir, we'll go to the church.'"

Law enforcement on Monday used chemical irritants and smoke canisters to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park, just north of the White House, immediately before the president walked over to nearby St. John's Episcopal Church to pose with a Bible in front of the building and take photographs with his aides.

Cuomo also pushed back against Trump tweets that were critical of the governor for not calling in the National Guard to curb looting that broke out during protests in New York City.

"The negativity, forget the tweets, you know, who cares about the tweets. It's what he's done to the people of the state that bothers me," Cuomo said. "He has failed to do anything positive for New York. He's gone out of his way to be negative to New York."

The governor said the president changed the tax code in a way that increased the tax burden in New York and refused to fund or support transportation projects like the Hudson Tunnel and the Second Avenue Subway.

Cuomo also noted that Trump kicked New Yorkers out of the trusted-traveler program because the state refused to give the federal government driver's-license information for undocumented people. The federal government is also blocking federal funding to the state to help it rebound from the coronavirus crisis, Cuomo said.

"From day one in his administration, you have seen negative, hostile government acts," the governor said.