New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Andrew Cuomo for ‘bullying’ a state lawmaker who claimed the governor threatened to ‘destroy’ him unless he helped cover up the COVID-19 nursing home scandal.
During an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, de Blasio addressed the claim made by assemblyman Ron Kim who said Cuomo made threats as part of an effort to get him to ‘cover up’ for a top aide who admitted that his administration concealed the real number of nursing home deaths from the virus.
‘It’s a sad thing to say … but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo,’ de Blasio told the network.
‘A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls. The bullying is nothing new.’
De Blasio went on to say that he ‘100 per cent’ believes Kim.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Andrew Cuomo for ‘bullying’ a state lawmaker who claimed the governor threatened to ‘destroy’ him unless he helped cover up the COVID-19 nursing home scandal
‘It’s very, very sad, no public servant no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way,’ de Blasio said.
‘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 this state have heard that.’
Kim told CNN on Wednesday that the governor berated him during a phone call. He accused Cuomo of threatening him into issuing a statement ‘that invalidated what I heard. He asked me to lie to cover up for his staff’.
‘Governor Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said,’ Kim told the network.
‘He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience.’
Kim continued: ‘I was right about to bathe my kids. It really just put, you know, my family and my wife into shock and trauma for many hours, she couldn’t get any sleep that night.’
On Wednesday, a senior Cuomo aide issued a statement accusing Kim of ‘lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo’.
DailyMail.com has reached out to a spokesperson for the governor for comment.
DeRosa, the secretary to the governor, unleashed a political firestorm last week when she admitted to state Democrats that the administration had deliberately dragged their heels on releasing data on the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
DeRosa allegedly said that they were worried former president Donald Trump would turn the deaths ‘into a giant political football’.
Assemblyman Ron Kim (left) claimed Gov Cuomo (right) made threats as part of an effort to get him to ‘cover up’ for a top aide who admitted that his administration concealed the real number of nursing home deaths from the virus
Melissa DeRosa (left), the secretary to the governor, unleashed a political firestorm last week when she admitted to state Democrats that the administration had deliberately dragged their heels on releasing data on the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes
Kim, who represents the Queens district that was hardest hit at the height of the pandemic, told the New York Post that DeRosa’s comments sounded like the governor was ‘trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence’.
The assemblyman said he also called on Cuomo to apologize to family members of those who died in assisted living facilities during the call.
Kim believes his own uncle died from a presumed case of COVID-19 in a nursing home last year. He has been among the governor’s most vocal critics of his handling of the nursing home controversy.
Cuomo was allegedly angered by Kim’s statement to the Post and made the call later that day in an effort to make him pull it back and issue a positive statement instead.
Kim told CNN that the governor told him ‘we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me’.
Kim alleges that Cuomo shouted at him for ten minutes and asked him ‘are you an honorable man?’ before the governor added that he ‘hadn’t seen his wrath and anger’ before.
‘No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life,’ Kim said of his conversation with Cuomo.
‘At some point he tried to humiliate me, asking: ‘Are you a lawyer? I didn’t think so. You’re not a lawyer.’
‘It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I’m glad I didn’t.’
Kim’s wife told CNN that she overheard parts of the governor’s phone call with her husband last week. She said Cuomo was ‘loud’ and ‘angry’.
‘Who do you think you are?’ the governor is alleged to have told Kim. Kim’s wife also said she heard Cuomo say the words ‘my wrath’.
After Kim hung up, he told his wife: ‘The governor threatened to destroy my life.’
Kim told that his wife was in tears after the governor’s phone call.
‘My wife, you know, that night was very, very troubling because we couldn’t sleep, and she’s telling me, “What did you do to us? Stop what you’re doing. Please.” She feared for my future, for my life.
‘That’s the kind of shock that this governor gave to my family, and his administration should be apologizing to me right away, not spinning and distracting us from getting to the truth,’ he said.
Kim has been a vocal critic of Cuomo’s handling of the nursing home deaths scandal for months, as pictured above
Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi accused Kim of lying in a statement on Wednesday
CNN reinstates ban on Chris Cuomo featuring family – as the host remains silent on his NY governor brother’s nursing home scandal
CNN has allegedly reinstated a ban on host Chris Cuomo interviewing his brother, Andrew, despite allowing the New York governor to appear on his show more than ten times last year.
The network was questioned by the Washington Post on Tuesday after Chris, 50, failed to mention his 63-year-old brother while addressing the biggest stories related to COVID-19 on his show the previous night.
The host’s silence came just hours after the governor had finally addressed in a press conference the latest scandal surrounding his handling of the data involving COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
And as Democrats continued to turn against the governor, with nine state assembly members on Tuesday accusing him of an ‘obstruction of justice’.
The Post had criticized CNN for allowing Chris to deliver ‘over-the-top praise when the governor is up; silence when he’s down’, after the host completely ignored the press conference, which had been among the main coronavirus stories of the day.
CNN said in a statement to the publication that they had earlier allowed the host to break the rules on him interviewing family members as the first months of the pandemic crisis ‘were an extraordinary time’.
The network also argued that it has ‘covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively’.
Yet the decision to now continue to ban after an extended break comes after months of praise being heaped on the governor by his brother in more than ten appearances on his show.
Kim said that Cuomo continued to try and reach him on the phone all throughout the weekend. He said he received several calls from an unlisted phone number and that aides to the governor left messages saying that Cuomo would like to speak with him again.
Kim told CNN that he did not return those phone calls.
He said that he has hired a lawyer. Kim said that any attempt by the governor to reach him should be made through the attorney’s office.
Cuomo appeared to make good on his alleged threat earlier on Wednesday as he criticized Kim during a press briefing and claimed that he and the assembly member had a ‘long and hostile relationship’.
He also suggested that Kim was guilty of practices that were ‘unethical if not illegal’.
The governor claimed that the tension rose from a 2015 bill to reform nail salons that the Cuomo proposed, and Kim voted against.
Kim has been a vocal critic of Cuomo’s handling of nursing home deaths for months, as he believes his own uncle died from a presumed case of COVID in a nursing home last year.
Kim said the call amounted to the governor threatening to tarnish his reputation if he did not decide to publicly back Cuomo and say that he misheard DeRosa, according to the New York Times.
Three additional Democratic New York lawmakers told CNN anonymously that they had also heard and experienced an aggressive lobby from Cuomo and his aides in the past week, as his administration tries to negate the bad press he is receiving over the scandal.
An advisor to Cuomo initially denied that the governor had threatened Kim.
‘Kim’s assertion that the governor said he would ‘destroy him’ is false,’ senior adviser Rich Azzopardi told CNN.
‘The Governor has three witnesses to the conversation. The operable words were to the effect of, “I am from Queens, too, and people still expect honor and integrity in politics”.’
Azzopardi also claimed that Kim had initially agreed to issue a new statement in the phone call and that the follow ups over the weekend were only because he had failed to do so.
In a longer statement, Azzopardi claimed that he knew Kim is lying because ‘I was once of the three people in the room when the phone call occurred’.
He blasted the claims as ‘part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr Kim against this administration’.
‘We will not allow an unscrupulous politician to deceive New Yorkers or distort the truth … He is without credibility as his own word demonstrate. Lies have caused grieving families from COVID enough pain,’ Azzopardi continued.
Earlier that day, Cuomo had addressed the matter himself during a press briefing as he issued accusations of impropriety at the assemblyman.
He accused the fifth-term assemblyman of a ‘continuing racket’ in accepting donations from nail salon owners.
Cuomo claimed that Kim voted against the bill that he had helped craft after siding with the salon owners who were upset about the reform it would introduced.
He suggested Kim engaged in ‘pay to play’ and said it was ‘unethical if not illegal’.
Cuomo noted a New York Times article from that year that examined financial contributions to Kim after he had changed his position on the salon reform bill.
The governor appeared particularly angered during the briefing by a letter issued by Kim and six other Democratic state assembly members on Tuesday in which they accused Cuomo of an ‘intentional obstruction of justice’.
The letter said that Cuomo attempted to circumvent a federal probe by delaying the release of a complete tally of deaths of nursing home residents.
Up until last month, the state had claimed that only 8,500 people had died in nursing homes.
Kim believes that his uncle died from a presumed case of COVID in a nursing home last year
Kim has hit out at Cuomo over an order that sent COVID patients back to nursing homes
Yet these figures did not include deaths of nursing home residents who were hospitalized and then died in hospital. The state only released the full figure of 15,000 last month.
Despite the criticism he received from Cuomo on Wednesday, Kim said that he stands ‘100 per cent’ behind his allegations about the threat and was disappointed by the suggestion that he had an ulterior political motive.
‘There’s no undoing here. They have blood on their hands,’ Kim said. ‘We’re talking about his record of performance in the last 10 months.’
‘Basically, I saw a crime and he’s asking me to say that I did not see that crime,’ he added to the Times. ‘I heard what I heard and I can’t lie.
‘The governor can personally attack me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his incompetent management. But these facts are not going away because they are the facts and are unacceptable.’
Cuomo will be standing for reelection next year. On Tuesday, a survey released by Siena College revealed that Cuomo still holds a good favorability rating among New Yorkers although his approval rating had dropped slightly in the past month.
However, the poll was carried out before the Post revealed DeRosa’s comments last week.
They did come after a report from Attorney General Letitia James’ office and a court order forced the state to finally release the figures showing the true extent of COVID nursing home deaths was almost double what they had originally claimed.
In the survey, New Yorkers failed Cuomo on his handling of the scandal.
Both Democrats and Republicans in the state have been angered by Cuomo’s administration and the delay in receiving the full figure of deaths after lawmakers had made a formal request for the information in August.
Yet Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing although he apologized on Monday for not working to provide the information more quickly.