New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo amid reports that Cuomo threatened a lawmaker who opposed the state’s decision not to immediately release data on Covid-19-related deaths in nursing homes.
“It’s a sad thing to say, Mika, but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo. A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls. The bullying is nothing new,” de Blasio told co-host Mika Brzezinski during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“I believe Ron Kim. No public servant, no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way,” de Blasio said, referring to the Democratic lawmaker who, in a separate “Morning Joe” interview, said Cuomo made a threat against his career if he did not comply with the state’s narrative about nursing home deaths. de Blasio added that “the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment. Many, many times I’ve heard that, and I know a lot of other people in the state have heard that.”
.@NYCMayor de Blasio reacts to our interview with NY Assemblyman @RonTKim, who says he was threatened by @NYGovCuomo: “That’s classic Andrew Cuomo…The bullying is nothing new.” https://t.co/nflM2tLyq8 pic.twitter.com/O7HVYyz7vt
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 18, 2021
de Blasio’s comments come a day after he called for a panel to investigate Cuomo.
“This whole thing has to be examined. We need the full truth,” he said yesterday. “It’s extraordinarily troubling on a human level because we don’t even know what it would’ve meant — how many lives might’ve been saved if things had been done differently.”
Concerns that New York underreported Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes have abounded for some time, though official confirmation had not yet entered the public record at the time former President Donald Trump, who regularly sparred with Cuomo over the federal response to the crisis that has left nearly 500,000 Americans dead, accused him of a coverup.
The scandal erupted when Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa privately apologized to Democrats during a video call, saying Cuomo’s staff “froze” out of fear that the actual death count “would be used against us” by federal prosecutors. Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a report that the state undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50%.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.