Colleague-Democratic lawmakers in New York did not buy Government Andrew Cuomo’s statement Monday about why he refused for several months to release a genuine record of residents of nursing homes who died of coronavirus.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), whose uncle died of COVID-19, said bluntly, “it’s all BS” and a cover-up.
“They could have given us the information back in May and June last year. They did not choose to, ”Kim said when he heard Cuomo blame DOJ probe for delays in the release of the exact coronavirus deaths of nursing home residents.
Cuomo quoted an exclusive August 26, 2020 history in The Post who broke the news of the Justice Department’s investigation into his administration’s policy of hospitalization and death counts, claiming that Albany lawmakers should have known about the probe based on this report.
Kim said lawmakers could have enacted laws to tighten accountability and responsibility in nursing homes to save lives if they had the information before.
Kim also said Cuomo’s comments Monday do not match that of top aide Melissa DeRosa told him and other lawmakers during a private meeting last week when she said former President Donald Trump made the issue a “political football” and claimed it as an excuse to withhold nursing home data. The Post only reported its explosive remarks after obtaining an audio recording of the meeting.
“And basically we froze,” DeRosa said.
“She talked about the potential for the information to become a weapon against them. DeRosa must be responsible for what she said, “Kim insisted.
“She involved us all in the hideout.”
DeRosa issued a statement Friday reflecting what the governor said Monday that the administration was dealing with federal probation before it would release more detailed nursing home data to state lawmakers and public data.
Meanwhile, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) challenged Cuomo’s claim that his team informed lawmakers it would delay the release of death data for nursing homes due to the federal probe.
“No @NYGovCuomo, you did not tell the whole ‘Senate or Assembly that there was a DOJ survey as the reason you did not share the nursing home numbers,” Biaggi said in one tweet.
“I found out a DOJ survey with the rest of the NYs in the @nypost story Thursday night,” she said.
State Senator Julia Salazar (D-Brooklyn) claimed Cuomo was lying.
“If the governor had actually informed the legislature months ago that his office withheld the data they had on total deaths in nursing homes, there would be no need for them to call a group of legislators last week to inform them of this. first time, ” she tweeted.
“The governor can claim (as he has done) that they withheld the data bc they thought would be used against them by the DOJ (!). But to claim that they informed the legislature is a lie on top of a lie. If he had been honest at first, he might have had a bad news cycle. But now?”
State Senator John Liu (D-Queens) also said the federal probe was not an excuse for “months and months of delays” in “misleading” or “withholding information that the public deserves to know.”
He said he would back legislation that slows the governor’s emergency powers because of Cuomo’s fumbling over the nursing home issue.
“The status quo cannot remain. There must be a recall of some of the governor’s emergency powers, “Liu told the Fox News Channel.
“For months and months, we have been asking the executive, the governor’s office, for this information. It was information that our voters demanded from the state government. ”
Liu said he was particularly upset by State Attorney Letitia James’ Attorney General judgmental report at nursing homes released last month, which found that Cuomo’s health department made up 50 percent of COVID deaths for residents by excluding people who died in hospitals.
Hours after the report, Team Cuomo began to clean up by releasing more accurate data that increased the COVID-19 nursing home death toll by nearly 4,000.
Senate GOP minority leader Robert Ortt said Republicans were never notified by Cuomo’s office about the DOJ probe and asked for time to release data on nursing homes.
“People want the truth, and the only way that can be provided is through investigations conducted by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General,” Ortt said.
A state judge on Feb. 3 ruled that Cuomo illegally detained COVID-19 nursing home data from the Empire Center for Public Policy and ordered release. The watchdog group filed a legal request for the information and was stoned for six months before the judge ordered the administration to begin releasing it.
Empire Center Bill Hammond said Cuomo hid before the DOJ probe to sit in a genuine account of deaths in nursing homes, not holding water.
Cuomo and his administration struggled with the release of the data before and after the DOJ probe. It is unlikely that they could not cooperate with the DOJ and provide information to lawmakers and the public, ”he said.
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