New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing growing criticism over his administration’s handling of nursing home data amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how the administration has allegedly dealt with the fallout itself.
On Wednesday, Ron Kim—a Democratic Assemblyman—claimed to CNN that Cuomo called him last week and threatened him over the scandal-in-progress. According to Kim, Cuomo called him last Thursday and threatened his political career if he failed to cover up for Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor.
“He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim said, adding that Cuomo allegedly also told him during the call “I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
An advisor to Cuomo, as stated in the report, has denied making threatening comments.
In a private virtual meeting earlier this month, a partial transcript of which has since been released by Cuomo’s office, DeRosa said the state had held off on sharing death data focused on nursing home residents amid worries of a possible investigation by the Department of Justice.
“[Trump] directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us,” DeRosa said during the Zoom call in question, which included other Cuomo administration members and state legislators. “He finds one person at DOJ, who since has been fired because this person is now known to be a political hack, who sends letters out to all of these different governors. And basically, we froze, because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys, what we start saying was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation. “
Meanwhile, sources told the Associated Press on Thursday that the Justice Department has been looking into Cuomo’s pandemic task force to find out if nursing home death data was “intentionally manipulated.” Those same sources also alleged that the administration hadn’t been cooperative, particularly earlier into the reported probe. And on Thursday, the Times Union said that both the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn were investigating “at least in part” the handling of the nursing home data.
Kim, notably, is among the Democrats who have backed a proposal that would limit Cuomo’s emergency powers.