New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of threatening political retaliation against several New York state lawmakers for criticizing him over allegations that his government had increased the number of deaths of COVID-19 patients in New York care homes forged.
A US state MP, Ron Kim, claims Cuomo called him and tried to persuade Kim to make a statement for Cuomo's secretary Melissa DeRosa after making the revealing statements during a private virtual meeting.
According to a report in the New York Times, Kim's first statement on the matter was, "It appeared that the governor was trying to evade incriminating evidence."
"Governor Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I didn't cover up Melissa (DeRosa) and what she said." https://t.co/hfxb0AmbTx
– Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) February 17, 2021
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Cuomo Issues Threats?
Kim, who represents a county in Queens, claims he received a call from the governor who first asked, "Are you an honorable man?"
Kim went on to say that Cuomo yelled at him for about ten minutes and threatened to publicly smear him if he didn't make another statement.
Cuomo had previously said that he and his government had "a long and hostile relationship" with MP Kim.
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According to a CNN report, some of the governor's more damaging comments were still pending.
During the phone conversation, Kim claims that Cuomo said that "we are in this business together and we do not cross certain boundaries." Kim also claims that Cuomo said that Kim "had not seen his anger" and that Cuomo added, "I can destroy you."
Ron Kim appears to have responded to Andrew Cuomo by relaying the content of their call to the world's two largest media outlets. Pic.twitter.com/D9WwtxnoFd
– David Freedlander (@freedlander) February 17, 2021
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But it didn't stop there
Kim's wife also confirms the intensity of the call between him and the governor. She said she could hear Cuomo speak loud and angry and once asked, "Who do you think you are?"
She also confirms hearing Cuomo with the phrase "My Wrath".
In addition to a threatening phone call from the governor, Kim said he had received multiple calls from blocked numbers on his phone. This was followed by several messages from aides to Cuomo, in which he said he wanted to speak to Kim again.
Another source of the governor's anger, according to the New York Times, was a letter signed by several MPs, including Kim, and the delays in releasing the correct total number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, including deaths following the rendition of the Residents, headed to hospitals.
In the letter, Cuomo was accused of obstruction of justice by the federal government.
Cuomo accused Kim of a "persistent thug" who claimed Kim solicited donations from nail salon owners angry about a nail salon reform bill that Cuomo helped create. Cuomo implied that Kim was involved in some kind of pay-to-play system.
Welp, Andrew Cuomo attacks Ron Kim for "pay-to-play nail salons" which I think is code for "I want this scandal to go away. So let me invent a new scandal to target a progressive member of the Assembly to fight. "
– Johari – who is openly black – Frasier (@JohariFrasier) February 17, 2021
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Response from the governor
While even Democratic lawmakers accuse Cuomo of lying and trying to cover up a trail of unnecessary deaths, both Republicans and Democrats are calling for a full investigation.
Cuomo continues to deny that he and his government did anything wrong.
"New York State DOH has fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals." However, this was completely at odds with the findings of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
There were other lawmakers pressured to support Cuomo's handling of the deaths in nursing homes.
They will not speak up because they have been proposed or threatened with political retaliation for not publicly supporting Cuomo.
Important from our story: CNN also spoke to three other New York lawmakers who said they were aware of Cuomo's reach, in which he was clearly proposing or threatening political retaliation if they did not stand by him. https://t.co/w4Y2CPPUsY
– MJ Lee (@mj_lee) February 17, 2021