New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is facing bipartisan criticism after a top aide reportedly acknowledged withholding data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes amid concerns it was “going to be used against us.”
Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa privately told state lawmakers on Wednesday that after the governor’s administration was asked by the Department of Justice for information regarding the COVID-19 death toll in New York nursing homes, “basically, we froze,” The New York Times and the New York Post reported. New York’s State Legislature had also requested similar information, the Times notes.
“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 give to you guys, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa reportedly said.
The comments came after New York Attorney General Letitia James in a report last month said the state undercounted nursing home COVID-19 deaths by “as much as 50 percent.” Reports on DeRosa’s comments prompted a new wave of criticism of the governor both from Republicans and Democrats.
“Your admin made a decision to lie about the numbers, and you’re out of excuses so you’re pointing at Trump,” Alessandra Biaggi, a Democratic state senator, tweeted at a Cuomo adviser. “It’s nonsense, and you know it.”
Democratic state senator Andrew Gounardes also tweeted that “this is a betrayal of the public trust,” adding, “There needs to be full accountability for what happened.” Republicans strongly criticized Cuomo as well, with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) alleging the comments revealed “a stunning and criminal abuse of power” and calling for Cuomo and his team to be “prosecuted immediately.”
In a new statement on Friday, DeRosa said the Cuomo administration was “comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ.”