New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been accused of threatening political retaliation against several New York state lawmakers who have criticized him in the aftermath of allegations that his administration had falsified the number of deaths of COVID-19 patients in New York nursing homes.
One State Assemblyman, Ron Kim, claims that Cuomo called him and tried to talk Kim into issuing a statement covering for Cuomo’s secretary Melissa DeRosa, after she made the revealing statements during a private virtual meeting.
According to a new York Times report, Kim’s initial statement on the matter was that he said that “it appeared the Governor was trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence.”
“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said.” https://t.co/hfxb0AmbTx
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) February 17, 2021
Cuomo Issuing Threats?
Kim, who represents a district in Queens, claims he received a phone call from the Governor, who first asked, “Are you an honorable man?”
Kim went on to say that Cuomo yelled at him for roughly ten minutes and threatened to publicly smear him if he did not issue a new statement.
Cuomo had previously said that he and his administration had “a long and hostile relationship” with Assemblyman Kim.
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According to a CNN report, some of the more damaging comments from the Governor were yet to come.
In the course of the phone call, Kim claims that Cuomo said that “we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines.” Kim also claims that Cuomo said that Kim “hadn’t seen his wrath” and that Cuomo added, “I can destroy you.”
Ron Kim appears to have responded to Andrew Cuomo by leaking the contents of their call to the two biggest media outlets in the world pic.twitter.com/D9WwtxnoFd
— David Freedlander (@freedlander) February 17, 2021
But It Didn’t Stop There
Kim’s wife also confirms the intensity of the call between himself and the Governor. She said she could hear Cuomo speaking loudly and angrily, and at one point asked, “who do you think you are?”
She also confirms hearing Cuomo using the phrase “my wrath.”
In addition to a threatening phone call from the Governor, Kim says that he received several calls from blocked numbers to his phone. These were followed by several messages from aides to Cuomo, saying that he wanted to speak to Kim again.
Another source of anger from the Governor, according to the New York Times, was over a letter signed by several Assemblymen, Kim included, citing delays in releasing the correct total of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, including deaths that occurred after residents were transferred to hospitals.
The letter went on to accuse Cuomo of federal obstruction of justice.
Cuomo accused Kim of a “continuing racket” claiming that Kim solicited donations from nail salon owners, upset about a nail salon reform law that Cuomo helped to write. Cuomo implied that Kim was involved in some sort of pay-to-play scheme.
Welp, Andrew Cuomo is attacking Ron Kim for ‘pay-to-play nail salons,’ which I think is code for “I want this scandal to go away, so let me make up a new scandal to fight a progressive Assemblymember on.”
— Johari—who is openly Black—Frasier (@JohariFrasier) February 17, 2021
Response From The Governor
While even Democrat lawmakers are accusing Cuomo of lying and trying to cover up a trail of needless deaths, both Republicans and Democrats are calling for a full investigation.
Cuomo continues to deny that he and his administration did anything wrong.
“New York State DOH fully and publicly reported all COVID deaths in nursing homes and hospitals.” However, this was a complete contradiction to findings from New York Attorney General Letitia James office.
There have been other legislators who have been pressured to say they support Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home deaths.
They will not speak out because they have also had political retaliation suggested or outright threatened against them if they did not publicly support Cuomo.
Importantly from our story: CNN also spoke with three other New York legislators who said they were aware of outreach from Cuomo in which he clearly suggested or explicitly threatened political retaliation if they did not stand by him. https://t.co/w4Y2CPPUsY
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) February 17, 2021