After shocking allegations from Assemblyman Ron Kim that Governor Andrew Cuomo called him privately to demand he retract his criticism of the governor’s mishandling of nursing homes, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he believes Kim and that “the bullying is nothing new,” NBC 4 reported.
“It’s a sad thing to say … but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo. A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls,” the mayor said during a television interview. “I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad, no public servant no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way. 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.”
“It’s just the script, it’s exactly what a lot of us have heard before. It’s not a surprise, it’s sad. It’s not the way people should be treated,” De Blasio said. “The notion that information was held back for political convenience instead of the blunt truth coming out so we could save lives? Something’s profoundly wrong there,” the mayor said.
Kim, a Democrat from Queens whose uncle, a veteran, died of coronavirus in the nursing home he had lived in, had been consistently critical of the governor and accused him of a cover-up.
One night, when Kim was home with his wife and children, the governor called him, furious. “”He spent 10 minutes berating me, yelling at me, threatening me and my career, my livelihood,” Kim told NBC 4 on Wednesday. “I refuse to be a cover-up for him. And that’s why he’s coming after me. And he’s trying to punish me.”
Kim had to end the interview early because he had begun to cry while recalling how his wife became frightened as she overheard Cuomo shouting at her husband.
The Cuomo administration denied the governor yelled at Kim, but Cuomo acknowledged he called the assemblyman during the governor’s press conference on Monday.
“I said to him on the phone, ‘There is still integrity and honor and decency in politics,'” the governor said.
Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James accused the governor of mispresenting the number of nursing home deaths by the thousands, and this week a recording of the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, heard her admitting the state withheld information over the summer about the pandemic’s toll out of fear then-President Trump’s Justice Department would open a partisan investigation.
On Monday at his press conference, the governor gave what was likely the closest to an apology he will ever give.
“In retrospect, should we have given more priority to fulfilling information requests? In my opinion, yes. And that’s what created the void,” Cuomo said. “I just want to make sure people know these are the facts: Everything that could have been done was done.”
But many are unimpressed. The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI have opened a preliminary investigation into the Cuomo’s administration’s handling of nursing homes during the coronavirus epidemic. Republicans and Democrats alike in the State Assembly are strongly considering revoking the emergency powers granted to Cuomo during the start of the pandemic.
Kim released a statement accusing Cuomo of slipping immunity for nursing homes and powerful health lobbyists into the state budget, and lied about how quickly they were releasing information. “As legislators we have a duty to uncover the truth behind the nursing home deaths and the governor’s explanations do not add up,” Kim said in a statement. “Facts matter.”