- Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide apologised to Democratic lawmakers – and no one else – for lying about the state’s COVID nursing home disaster.
- Cuomo has coasted on fawning media coverage and a lack of journalistic scepticism for long enough.
- It’s time to strip Cuomo of emergency powers, and it’s well past time for a federal investigation.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Andrew Cuomo’s own top aide just gave up the game.
The erstwhile national hero, COVID sex symbol, and author of “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” did everything he possibly could to coverup for his disastrous decision to order nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients, almost certainly resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
In a video conference all with New York lawmakers â€” all Democrats â€” Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa admitted that the Cuomo administration lied and stonewalled about COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, the New York Post reported.
But, DeRosa said, it was because of Trump.
The state’s Democratic-controlled Senate last August asked the administration for a full and transparent accounting of nursing home death data in order to determine the true cost of Cuomo’s order. The administration refused that request, as well as Freedom of Information Law requests made by news outlets and conservative advocacy groups for access to the data.
Among DeRosa’s excuses for the lying were the threat of a Trump administration Department of Justice investigation, Trump’s tweet-attacks on Democratic governors, and turning the issue into a “political football.”
“And basically, we froze,” DeRosa said, asking for “a little bit of appreciation of the context” that the data could “be used against us.”
To their credit, several Democrats on the call were unimpressed with the explanation. So DeRosa offered them an apology, of sorts: “It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”
Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told the Post that it sounded “like they admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice.”
Kim, who said his uncle died of COVID while in a nursing home last April and who for months has been calling for an independent investigation, also expressed frustration that this half-baked apology wasn’t given to the families of the deceased.
“It’s not enough how contrite they are with us,” Kim said. “They need to show that to the public and the families â€” and they haven’t done that.”
The house of cards comes crumbling down
But now his own administration has admitted just how phony the whole thing was.
The supposed model of competent governance now presides over a state with the highest rate of COVID hospitalizations per million residents, a glacially slow and confusing vaccine rollout, and a confusing reopening of the economy.
And shortly after the Post’s report hit the internet, Cuomo’s senior advisor Rich Azzopardi offered a petulant afterword, once again blaming it all on Trump while claiming “we were working simultaneously to complete the audit of information” the state legislature had asked for.
It’s both amazing and infuriating that a Cuomo aide would privately apologise to Democrats, but no one else. It’s astounding that another aide would double-down on blaming the former president for politicizing Cuomo’s COVID response, which the governor had never shied away from politicizing himself.
And this is all happening two weeks after New York’s attorney general released a report that revealed the Cuomo administration had undercounted the state’s COVID-related nursing home deaths by about 50%.
What’s clear is that it’s time for the legislature to strip Cuomo of the near-absolute emergency powers he’s been afforded since the start of the pandemic.
It’s also time for that federal investigation which so frightened the Cuomo administration that they continued to rationalize bald-face lying.