In a feeble attempt to defend his actions, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference in which, instead of revealing the reason he lied about the number of deceased seniors in nursing homes in the state, he preferred to lie and attack his Democratic allies.
Cuomo tried to downplay the fact that he misled about the number of deceased seniors, preferring instead to issue pleas defending the reason for his cover-up. He said he delayed sending information, and that lawmakers were informed about it.
What is serious is that data was withheld to dodge a federal investigation.
Delay in the publication of data or cover-up?
At the press conference Cuomo said the Health Department had “held up” state lawmakers’ request for data on COVID-19 deaths because his administration decided to focus on a related Justice Department investigation.
But Melissa DeRosa, Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, has previously denied her boss in a secret meeting with Democratic lawmakers. At that time, she did not say that the sending information to lawmakers was to prioritize the federal investigation, instead noting that the Cuomo Administration had rejected the request from the legislature because “at about the same time, then-President Donald Trump was turning the situation into a giant political football.”
Lawmakers were not informed
Cuomo further asserted that “both houses of the state Legislature” were informed about the investigation and that is why he decided to prioritize the federal investigation.
“We gave priority to the DOJ. We told the Assembly that, we told the Senate that, and that’s what we did. We were also in the middle of dealing with a pandemic,” Cuomo said.
However the claim is not true, several Democratic lawmakers, including New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, denied that Cuomo’s office had ever informed them of his decision.
New York State Senators Alessandra Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera, both Democrats, also took aim at Cuomo’s comments. Both lawmakers said they first learned about the Justice Department’s investigation into New York nursing home deaths from local newspapers, not the governor’s office.
Information gap or a brutal lie?
Cuomo admitted that there was an alleged “delay” in releasing data on elderly deaths; but the truth is that not only was he late in sending the information to legislators, but also when he decided to announce the number of deceased seniors, he lied with premeditation.
“There are no excuses. We should not have created a vacuum. We should have done a better job of providing information, we should have done a better job of tearing down misinformation,” he said.
But state Attorney General Letitia James announced, in a damning 76-page report, that the number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 could be 50 percent higher than claimed by Cuomo Administration officials, who did not disclose actual numbers.
In fact, the prosecutor’s findings pushed the Health Department’s tally of 8,711 deaths to more than 13,000, based on a survey of 62 nursing homes.
Cuomo not only lied in the middle of a prosecutorial investigation, he lied to New Yorkers as well as his own Democratic colleagues and legislators.
At the press conference Cuomo said that the investigation against him is politically motivated; however he in fact concealed the real numbers of deceased seniors to avoid political repercussions.
Melissa DeRosa, Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, privately confessed that the New York governor lied about the true number of deceased seniors “for fear that federal prosecutors would use them against us.”
The excuse for lying about the number of deceased seniors was that Trump might have used it to his advantage by “tweeting messages.”
“So we apologize,” she stated. “I understand the position we put you in. I know it’s not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with Republicans,” said DeRosa, who instead of apologizing for misleading, asked for forgiveness because the situation had brought about “political consequences.”
Cuomo is being criticized for a March 25th Department of Health memo that ordered nursing homes to accept patients who had tested positive. The report notes that at least 4,000 elderly residents died after Cuomo’s memo. New York U.S. Attorney Letitia James said it “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.”