'Here in New York we actually read the bible', says Cuomo in jab at Trump

New York Governor Cuomo holds a briefing on the coronavirus response at the National Press Club in Washington

By Nathan Layne and Maria Caspani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday took a swipe at U.S. President Donald Trump for a staged photo holding a Bible in front of a church near the White House, a visit made possible after protesters were cleared with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Trump did not read any passages from the Bible after walking to St. John's Episcopal Church for the photo on Monday night.

"The president held up the Bible the other day in Washington, D.C. Here in New York we actually read the Bible," Cuomo told a briefing before reading some passages from the book.

Cuomo, a Democrat who often trades barbs with the Republican president, also said he was against the use of active military personnel to quell unrest rocking the country, noting that Trump's own defense secretary had opposed the idea.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told a news briefing earlier on Wednesday that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy active duty forces to counter protests, a move Trump has threatened to take.

"You can't use the military as a political weapon," Cuomo said.

Cuomo also said protesters in New York City were mainly peaceful on Tuesday and praised the police department's handling of the events, a day after criticizing the NYPD and the mayor for failing to do their job.

"New York City last night was much better," Cuomo told the briefing. "The protesters were mainly peaceful, the police officers had the resources and the capacity to do their job."

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Richard Chang)