The news keeps getting worse for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) as he faces mounting criticism over a scandal involving his office’s alleged underreporting of COVID-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
According to recent reports, one state lawmaker in Cuomo’s own party is accusing the governor of issuing a vague threat in an effort to continue the cover-up.
Cuomo’s alleged phone call
According to the New York Post, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim said that Cuomo vowed to “destroy” him if he did not assist in maintaining the ruse.
Kim’s uncle is among the thousands of nursing home patients who died of COVID-19 across the state over the past year. He is also one of a number of state Democrats who are calling for Cuomo to lose his emergency powers since news broke that he downplayed the death toll.
The assemblyman was one of the elected officials who participated in a recent conference call with top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa. In that call, she effectively admitted that the office withheld information out of fear of a probe by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice.
In a Feb. 11 report by the New York Post detailing that phone call, Kim excoriated Cuomo for his handling of the situation.
Later the same day, Kim said that he was at home with his family when the governor called to insist that he play along with the official narrative of the scandal.
“He attacked me”
“You have not seen my wrath,” the governor allegedly said, according to the Post. “I have been biting my tongue for months. I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished. You will be destroyed.”
According to Kim, his wife “could hear the governor yelling into the phone.” He said that she was so frightened that she “didn’t sleep at all” that night.
In subsequent days, Cuomo allegedly tried to contact Kim by phone several more times.
As the state lawmaker alleged, Cuomo requested that he publicly state that DeRosa “said there was a federal investigation and they had to deal with that first,” which aligns with the governor’s rhetoric about a comparatively benign “delay” by his office in releasing the data.
Cuomo, who earned widespread praise for his frequent news conferences early on in the pandemic, is now attempting to distance himself from the latest backlash. As for Kim’s allegations, he said: “I didn’t say anything about Assemblyman Ron Kim. He attacked me. He attacked me and said that I obstructed justice in a letter.”