Just minutes after observing how scandal-plagued New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo was using the “Clinton playbook” of lies and defiance to cling to power, MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd bizarrely suggested Bill Clinton was one of the few Democrats who might be able to convince Cuomo to resign. The host also pleaded for President Biden to pressure the sexual-harassing politician to step down in the wake of a damning report from the New York Attorney General’s office being released on Tuesday.
“What would you advise President Biden to do here? He might be the only Democrat who could, in a private conversation, talk – I could make the argument, he might be – he and Bill Clinton, and maybe Barack Obama, the three of them – might be able to talk Cuomo into resigning,” Todd remarked to former Maryland Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards during MTP Daily, following Cuomo putting out a statement in which he attacked the legitimacy of the investigation.
Edwards reminded viewers that Biden had already gone on the record in March demanding Cuomo resign if the investigation found him guilty of sexual harassment:
I don’t know, President Biden has already publicly said that if this report came out in exactly the way that it did that Governor Cuomo should resign. I think that opens the door for a private conversation, and if that private conversation does not work, it certainly opens the door for another public call for the Governor’s resignation.
Of course neither her nor Todd mentioned the fact that the President has also been accused of sexual misconduct by former Senate staffer Tara Reade.
What was particularly odd about Todd’s analysis was that earlier in the very same segment he commented on how Cuomo was behaving exactly how Bill Clinton behaved in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. MSNBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos recalled: “It called to mind that iconic video, it must have brought to mind for you, Chuck, I almost wanted him to hold his fingers like Bill Clinton did when he said, ‘I did not have sexual’...”
Todd agreed and added: “...if we’re going to go back to the Clinton playbook, the vast right-wing conspiracy. You know, there is – this is our toxic political environment and it sounds to me setting up a political argument that basically says, ‘I’m just a victim of this toxic political environment.’”
So how exactly would unrepentant sexual harasser Bill Clinton be able to convince unrepentant sexual harasser Andrew Cuomo to resign? Todd never explained his logic on that one.
Here is a transcript of the August 3 exchange:
1:27 PM ET
DANNY CEVALLOS [MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST]: It called to mind that iconic video, it must have brought to mind for you, Chuck, I almost wanted him to hold his fingers like Bill Clinton did when he said...
CHUCK TODD: Wag his finger, yeah.
CEVALLOS: ...“I did not have sexual” – right, exactly. Well, he had that special way of hooking his finger over the thumb. And I almost expected that. And if history taught us anything, do not make those kinds of blanket denials, they can come back to really hurt you.
1:29 PM ET
TODD: Well, let’s move to the politics now. Donna Edwards, you get to play the – put that hat on, if you will. I want to play a quote from the Governor because it sounds to me like at least the framework of how he believes he could politically survive this. Take a listen. It’s SOT two, guys.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO [D-NY]: Today we are living in a super-heated, if not toxic, political environment. That shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation. One would be naive to think otherwise, and New Yorkers are not naive.
TODD: Donna, it’s all just politics, right? That’s what that line seemed to throw out there. And by the way, it is notable that the Jeffries, Meeks, Suozzi statement, joint statement, coupled with the previous resignation calls in the New York Democratic congressional delegation, means every member of the New York Democratic delegation is on the record calling for some form of resignation, for what it is worth, Chuck Schumer back in March. So that is something notable there.
But, Donna Edwards, that sounded like, if we’re going to go back to the Clinton playbook, the vast right-wing conspiracy. You know, there is – this is our toxic political environment and it sounds to me setting up a political argument that basically says, “I’m just a victim of this toxic political environment.” Like I said, he looks like a politician on an island right now. Where do the Democrats go?
FMR. REP. DONNA EDWARDS [D-MD]: You know, that really stretches credibility given that these are a mass of Democrats who have called at some level or other for his resignation. The only thing that’s really toxic here is the environment, the work environment that Governor Cuomo created. The predatory behavior.
And I read this report and what it describes, if you were reading it about anyone else, is a predator. It didn't matter who you were, as a woman, you work for him, you met him at an event, you saw him at a wedding, he felt that it was okay to say inappropriate things and to touch you in inappropriate ways.
I think that Kathy Hochul, who’s the lieutenant governor in New York, would make a fine governor. This governor should not serve a single other day given the behavior that he has engaged in. And what Tish James, the attorney general, laid out, was a set of facts that span criminal, civil, inappropriate behavior.
And so I do hope that someone takes up those cases. We certainly will see them in the civil courts. I don’t see how Andrew Cuomo survives. He will for a time because he’ll be the same kind of bully that he was, that he has apparently been in his office, but politically he has gotten a no confidence vote from members of the New York delegation.
CHUCK TODD: Right. What would you advise President Biden to do here? He might be the only Democrat who could, in a private conversation, talk – I could make the argument, he might be – he and Bill Clinton, and maybe Barack Obama, the three of them – might be able to talk Cuomo into resigning. How would you advise President Biden to go about this?
EDWARDS: I don’t know, President Biden has already publicly said that if this report came out in exactly the way that it did that Governor Cuomo should resign. I think that opens the door for a private conversation, and if that private conversation does not work, it certainly opens the door for another public call for the Governor’s resignation. I mean, you know, not only not having the political support of Democrats in the state but not having national political support. Who would want to stand and take a photo with Governor Cuomo right now? That’s my question as a politician.
TODD: Well, I mean, I don’t know if it’s a fair – Donna, let me ask you this, his people may tell him, “Hey, look what happened to Ralph Northam.” Basically, the Democratic Party told him to resign, he didn’t, and now look where he’s at today. But you tell me, Governor Northam showed a lot of remorse over what he was accused of doing. I didn’t hear remorse from Governor Cuomo.
EDWARDS: Not at all. In fact, Governor Cuomo was very defiant, and you know, essentially sort of challenged the credibility of the accusers when their stories and their testimony corroborated, is laid out very plainly in this report. So, you know, Governor Cuomo is a different sort of character. He is by nature defiant and aggressive. And so I would expect – I expected him, frankly, to respond in this way, but it doesn’t mean that he will survive politically because of that. I just think this is untenable. Eleven women on the record detailing their interactions with the Governor. It’s hard to see how you survive that way.