Governor Andrew Cuomo holds each day press briefing on the foot of Mario Cuomo Bridge in Tarrytown, New York, June 15, 2020.
Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket through Getty Pictures
What a distinction just a few months have made for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — and never in a great way.
Cuomo final 12 months was lionized by many who noticed him as a reliable, science-respecting, straight-talking, dad-like counterpoint to then-President Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff, expert-disdaining and often-confusing strategy to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo’s each day press conferences detailing the grim Covid-19 statistics in New York and urging residents to take precautions from turning into contaminated turned must-see TV for weeks, as did his towel-snapping banter in interviews with CNN anchorman Chris Cuomo — his personal brother.
Consequently, there was renewed speak that Cuomo, whose father Mario’s agonizing over whether or not to run for president earned him the sobriquet of “Hamlet on the Hudson,” can be a contender for the Democratic nomination for the White Home in 2024, or some place within the federal authorities earlier than that.
Cuomo even scored a deal to put in writing a e-book, “American Disaster: Management Classes from the Covid-19 Pandemic,” revealed in October — even because the disaster continued to threaten his personal state and elsewhere.
However it’s Cuomo’s managerial strategy to the well being disaster that has led to a political disaster in his administration that threatens his electoral future.
The U.S. Division of Justice is now conducting a felony probe into nursing residence deaths in New York associated to the coronavirus, it was revealed this week. Disclosure of that probe got here weeks after New York’s personal lawyer common, Letitia James, stated that deaths associated to these settings had been being underreported by the Cuomo administration by as a lot as 50%.
And Cuomo additionally faces an effort within the state legislature to strip him of his emergency powers, a push that has been fueled by resentment over the governor’s verbal strong-arming of lawmakers who get in his means.
There may be even speak of attempting to question Cuomo.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive Democrat whose district encompasses components of Queens and the Bronx, New York, on Friday issued a press release becoming a member of different elected officers’ request for a “full investigation of the State’s dealing with of the nursing houses throughout the pandemic.”
Ocasio-Cortez additionally stated she supported “our state’s return to co-equal governance,” a reference to what’s seen as Cuomo’s dominance over the legislative department for years.
“Hundreds of susceptible New Yorkers misplaced their lives in nursing houses throughout the pandemic,” she stated. “Their family members and the general public deserve solutions and transparency from their elected management.”
An apology, a probe
The distinction between Cuomo’s state of affairs now and what it was as of final fall was vividly illustrated final week when he left the White Home with out talking to reporters after a White Home assembly on pandemic reduction and vaccination efforts with President Joe Biden and different governors and mayors.
If that assembly had occurred final summer time, it’s unlikely that Cuomo would have missed the chance to inform journalists his ideas in regards to the sitdown.
However this assembly got here on the heels of a report in The New York Submit that Cuomo’s high aide, Melissa DeRosa, had just lately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the Covid demise tally in state nursing houses final 12 months — when Trump was nonetheless president — due to concern that the statistics would “be used in opposition to us” by federal prosecutors.
That apology apparently itself raised the antennae of prosecutors.
On Thursday night time, The Wall Road Journal reported that prosecutors from the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace for the Jap District of New York had sought knowledge on Covid-related nursing residence deaths.
The request is “a part of a broader inquiry into the state’s dealing with of the pandemic in these care settings,” in keeping with sources who spoke to the Journal.
One supply for the article stated the info request got here after DeRosa’s apology was reported.
Households of Covid victims and Republican lawmakers in New York final 12 months had criticized Cuomo for a state Well being Division order that required nursing houses to just accept their residents again even when they had been discharged by a hospital with Covid.
These critics blame that coverage for super-charging the unfold of the virus in nursing houses.
Cuomo, whose press workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark by CNBC, this week stated, “My well being specialists do not consider it was mistaken and we have gone by way of all of the information a number of occasions.”
The governor additionally stated he had adopted steering from two high federal companies, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, and Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Providers.
“If we did consider it was mistaken, then we might say we believed it was mistaken, and we made a mistake following CDC and CMS steering, after which I’d sue the federal authorities for malpractice on their CDC and CMS steering,” Cuomo stated.
‘Traditional Andrew Cuomo’
However on Tuesday, 9 Democratic members of the state Meeting despatched their colleagues a letter that accused Cuomo of deliberately obstructing justice in violation of federal felony regulation. That letter known as for the Meeting to strip the federal government of emergency powers granted him final 12 months because the pandemic started spreading.
“It is a vital first step in starting to proper the felony wrongs of this Governor and his administration,” stated the letter, whose signatories included Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens.
Kim this week stated that after he was quoted criticizing the withholding of nursing residence knowledge in a New York Submit article, he received a livid cellphone name from Cuomo on Feb. 11.
“You haven’t seen my wrath,” Cuomo warned Kim, in keeping with the lawmaker. “You can be destroyed,” the governor allegedly stated, in keeping with Kim.
Kim additionally instructed The Submit that the governor stated, “I can inform the entire world what a nasty individual you might be, and you can be completed.”
In an interview with NBC New York, Kim stated, “He spent 10 minutes berating me, yelling at me, threatening me and my profession, my livelihood.”
Kim’s spouse, who purportedly heard Cuomo as a result of he was so loudly berating the assemblyman, was so shook up by the governor’s threats that she “did not sleep that night time,” Kim stated.
Cuomo’s spokesman Wealthy Azzopardi instructed The Submit that Kim was “mendacity about his dialog with Gov. Cuomo.”
“I do know as a result of I used to be one in every of three different individuals within the room when the cellphone name occurred,” Azzopardi stated, in keeping with The Submit.
“At no time did anybody threaten to ‘destroy’ anybody with their ‘wrath’ nor have interaction in a ‘cowl up.'”
Kim had not backed down along with his claims.
Throughout an look Friday on ABC’s “The View,” Kim stated, “Cuomo is an abuser.”
New York Metropolis Mayor Invoice de Blasio, who usually has been a whipping boy for Cuomo, instructed MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” present that the decision to Kim was “basic Andrew Cuomo.”
“Lots of people in New York state have obtained these cellphone calls, you realize, the bullying is nothing new,” de Blasio stated.
“I consider Ron Kim, and it’s extremely, very unhappy — no public servant, no one who’s telling the reality must be handled that means.”