After nearly a year of relentless praise and adulation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, the tide is turning with a slew of recent revelations regarding his administration’s role in the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents.
Cuomo’s top aide, secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa, shocked the nation by admitting on Thursday that Cuomo had shielded data from New York lawmakers due to fears the numbers could be “used against us,” leading to an explosion of calls for the indictment of Cuomo and DeRosa.
They finally admitted it
Cuomo’s administration has long been reluctant to address calls to release data regarding the number of nursing home deaths in the state — and now we know why.
The governor has come under fire for months due to his controversial decision to order the state’s nursing homes — which house the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19 — to accept COVID-19 positive patients during the height of the pandemic.
Cuomo’s administration refused to release data proving the impact of that decision, manipulating the state’s data reporting system to conceal the true death toll that could be directly tied to his order.
DeRosa attempted to blame Trump for the misstep, telling Democrat New York legislators in a recently-surfaced conference call that Cuomo’s administration refused a request to provide nursing home data to state lawmakers because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football.”
“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa explained. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
After Trump’s Department of Justice began a preliminary probe of the matter, DeRosa said that Cuomo’s administration “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.”
Calls for prosecution
DeRosa’s confession — coupled with the results of an investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James which found that the Cuomo administration had underreported nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent — has launched a movement to hold Cuomo’s administration criminally liable for those deaths.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) called for an obstruction-of-justice investigation into DeRosa and Cuomo’s actions, tweeting on Thursday that “it’s now being reported there has been a direct admission of their nursing home coverup. The families of thousands of dead NY seniors deserve accountability.”
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) announced on Friday that he’s pursuing a criminal complaint against DeRosa, calling for her arrest for her role in facilitating Cuomo’s cover-up of the nursing home death toll.
A number of NY Democrats have joined Republicans calling for Cuomo to be held accountable for the disaster, with State Sen. Andrew Gornardes (D-Bay Ridge) declaring Cuomo and DeRosa’s actions a “betrayal of public trust” and calling for “full accountability for what happened, and the legislature needs to reconsider its broad grant of emergency powers to the governor.”