Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a daily press conference at the base of the Mario Cuomo Bridge in Tarrytown, New York on June 15, 2020.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images
What a difference a few months have made for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and not in a good way.
Cuomo was hailed last year by many who viewed him as a competent, scientifically respectful, no-nonsense, fatherly counterpoint to Donald Trump’s direct, expertly despicable, and often confusing approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo’s daily press conferences, detailing the gritty Covid-19 stats in New York and urging citizens to take precautions against infection, became a must-see TV for weeks, as did his towel joke in interviews with the CNN presenter Chris Cuomo – his own brother.
As a result, it was discussed again that Cuomo, whose father Mario worried about running for president, earned him the sobriety of “Hamlet on the Hudson,” being a candidate for the Democratic White House nomination in 2024 would, or some position in the federal government before that.
Cuomo even landed a contract to write a book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic, which was published in October – even as the crisis continued to threaten his own state and elsewhere.
But it is Cuomo’s management approach to the health crisis that has created a political crisis in his administration that threatens his electoral future.
The U.S. Department of Justice is currently conducting a criminal investigation into nursing home deaths in New York related to the coronavirus. This was announced this week. The disclosure of this probe came weeks after New York attorney general Letitia James said deaths related to these hires were underreported by the Cuomo administration by up to 50%.
And Cuomo is also facing an effort in the state legislature to deprive him of his emergency powers, a push fueled by resentment at the governor’s verbal armament against lawmakers who stand in his way.
There is even talk of indicting Cuomo.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive Democrat whose district includes parts of Queens and the Bronx in New York, issued a statement Friday approving requests from other elected officials for a “full investigation into government’s dealings with.” Nursing Homes During the Pandemic “joined. “
Ocasio-Cortez also said she supports “our state’s return to equal governance,” an indication of Cuomo’s years of dominance in the legislature.
“Thousands of New Yorkers at risk were killed in nursing homes during the pandemic,” she said. “Your loved ones and the public deserve answers and transparency from their elected leadership.”
The contrast between Cuomo’s current situation and last fall was vividly illustrated last week when he left the White House without speaking to reporters after speaking to President Joe Biden and other governors and mayors at the White House about pandemic relief and vaccination efforts would have.
If that meeting had happened last summer, it would be unlikely that Cuomo would have missed the opportunity to share his thoughts on the seat with journalists.
That meeting, however, followed a report in the New York Post that Cuomo’s top adviser Melissa DeRosa recently apologized to Democratic lawmakers for holding back the Covid death count in government nursing homes last year while Trump was still president fear that the statistics will be “used against us” by federal prosecutors.
That excuse apparently raised the prosecutors’ antennas itself.
On Thursday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York had requested data on deaths in nursing homes related to Covid.
The request is “part of a broader investigation into how the state is dealing with the pandemic in these care facilities,” according to sources who spoke with the journal.
A source for the article said the data request came after DeRosa’s apology was reported.
Families of Covid victims and Republican lawmakers in New York last year criticized Cuomo for an order from the state Department of Health requiring nursing homes to withdraw their residents even if they were discharged from a hospital with Covid.
These critics accuse these policies of accelerating the spread of the virus in nursing homes.
Cuomo, whose press office did not immediately respond to a request from CNBC for comment, said this week, “My health experts do not believe it was wrong and we have gone through all the facts multiple times.”
The governor also said he followed directions from two leading federal agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“If we believed it was wrong we would say we believe it is wrong and we made a mistake by following the CDC and CMS guidelines and then I would be the federal government because of Sue for misconduct related to their CDC and CMS policies, “Cuomo said.
On Tuesday, nine Democratic members of the State Assembly sent their colleagues a letter accusing Cuomo of deliberately obstructing the judiciary in violation of federal criminal law. That letter called on the gathering to withdraw the government’s emergency powers granted it last year as the pandemic spread.
“This is a necessary first step in correcting the criminal injustice of this governor and his government,” read the letter, which was signed by Honorable Ron Kim, Queens Rep.
Kim said this week, after being quoted in a New York Post article for criticizing the withholding of data from nursing homes, he received an angry phone call from Cuomo on Feb.11.
“You didn’t see my anger,” Cuomo Kim warned, according to lawmakers. “They will be destroyed,” said the governor, according to Kim.
Kim also told the Post that the governor said, “I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be done.”
In an interview with NBC New York, Kim said, “He spent 10 minutes calling me names, yelling at me, threatening me and my career, my livelihood.”
Kim’s wife, who allegedly overheard Cuomo for cursing MPs so loudly, was so shocked by the governor’s threats that she “didn’t sleep that night,” said Kim.
Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi told The Post that Kim “lied about his conversation with Governor Cuomo”.
“I know because I was one of three other people in the room when the call came,” Azzopardi said, according to The Post.
“At no point did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ someone with their ‘anger’ or to engage in a ‘cover-up’.”
Kim had not backed off with his claims.
During an appearance on ABC’s The View on Friday, Kim said, “Cuomo is an abuser.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was often a whipping boy for Cuomo, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show that the call to Kim was “classic Andrew Cuomo”.
“A lot of people in New York state got these calls, you know, bullying is nothing new,” said de Blasio.
“I believe Ron Kim, and it’s very, very sad – no officer, no person telling the truth should be treated like that.”