By ZION DECOTEAU
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday backed the Queens State Assemblyman who accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of making a threatening phone call after the publicly criticized the governor for undercounting the Covid death toll in nursing homes last spring.
“I believe Ron Kim,” said the Democratic mayor at his daily press briefing. De Blasio said the credibility of the legislator was enhanced by the “many times” the mayor also has had “tough” conversations with the infamously pugnacious governor.
The mayor supported an investigation of the matter.
“We’re talking about thousands of people who were lost,” he said. “There absolutely needs to be a full investigation.”
Kim claims that on Wednesday February 11th, Cuomo called him, threatening to “destroy his career” in retaliation for assemblyman’s public criticisms of the Cuomo administration’s deliberate undercounting of state nursing home fatalities.
“When we get closer to the truth behind the growing nursing home scandal in New York, Governor Cuomo tries to implicate you in the cover up, or threatens your livelihood if you don’t lie for him”said Kim Thursday morning, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
At the height of the pandemic, Cuomo mandated that nursing homes admit COVID positive patients to free up much needed hospital beds, despite the elderly being a high risk group to die of the virus. The matter hits close to home for Kim whose uncle died in a Flushing nursing home last year.
The controversy stems from a virtual conference between Democratic state lawmakers in which Cuomo’s secretary, Melissa De Rosa, admitted the administration underreported the deaths to delay a possible Department of Justice inquiry spearheaded by then President Trump. DeRosa feared a DOJ Trump investigation would be used as a political tool against Cuomo, rather than to help families of the deceased patients.
A separate investigation by New York State Attorney General Leticia James found that the Cuomo Administration undercounted coronavirus nursing home fatalities figures as much as 50 percent.
Kim toured several news shows with his charges against the governor. Before de Blasio’s press conference Kim was on WNYW’s Good Day New York. where anchor Rosanna Scotto noted that Kim failed to mention the alleged call when he had appeared on the program on Tuesday.
“We didn’t think it was that necessary to go public at the time,” responded Kim. “We wanted to tell the governor that you still have a chance to come clean”.
During the virtual meeting, gubernatorial aide De Rosa made the following, statements, (according to a partial transcript obtained by Politico) :
“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we gave to you guys, and what we started saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”