New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoEMILY's List announces early endorsement of Hochul Hochul jumps out to early lead in NY governor's primary: poll De Blasio privately says he plans to run for New York governor: report MORE (D) said Friday that acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfSunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Biden, Trump battle over who's to blame for Afghanistan The border is shifting from a manufactured crisis to a national embarrassment MORE and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, violated their oaths of office when they barred his state’s residents from participating in “trusted traveler programs.”
The remarks come a day after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) withdrew its decision to block New Yorkers from participating in the programs, which allow U.S. travelers quicker passage through borders and airport lines, after state lawmakers passed a law curtailing cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.
Cuomo blasted the DHS policy as “political exploitation” and said Wolf and Cuccinelli “clearly had no basis whatsoever to do this”
“It was all politics all the time. It was all exploitation all the time. And they hurt this state because of it. You cannot use government for political exploitation,” he said at a press conference. “It is illegal, what they did. And I believe acting Secretary Wolf and acting Deputy Cuccinelli, they violated their oath of office.”
“I believe Mr. Wolf and Mr. Cuccinelli have possible criminal liability, I believe there is civil liability. It was a clear abuse of government power for political purposes," he continued.
Cuomo noted that the policy led to longer lines at airports in New York in February and March — the same time as coronavirus cases were coming in from Europe and just before the Empire State emerged as the epicenter of the domestic COVID-19 outbreak.
“They were playing their political games, and they backed up the lines of people waiting to get through customs and Border Patrol in dense areas, in tight quarters waiting on a line,” he said. “I believe there are civil damages that New York state is owed, and we’ll be pursuing possible claims for that.”
Cuomo called on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan Photos of the Week: Climate protests, Blue Origin and a koala MORE (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMore than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump Jan. 6 panel to pursue criminal contempt referral for Bannon MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, to investigate Wolf and Cuccinelli over the move.
He also called on Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ Five takeaways: Report details Trump's election pressure campaign Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE to open a probe but said he did not believe he would do so.
The DHS’s reversal Thursday marked the culmination of a months-long feud with New York that started when the department retaliated for a law passed in December allowing residents to apply for driver’s licenses without having to prove they are in the U.S. legally. Several other states have similar laws in place, but New York was the only one cut out of the travel programs.
Wolf said Thursday that changes to the New York law allowing for the sharing of Department of Motor Vehicles records between Washington and Albany led DHS to reverse itself.
“We appreciate the information sharing to [Customs and Border Protection] CBP for the trusted travel program, which enables DHS to move forward and begin once again processing New York residents under the Trusted Travel Program. Nonetheless, local New York law continues to maintain provisions that undermine the security of the American people and purport to criminalize information sharing between law enforcement entities,” Wolf said in a statement.