NY Dems shred Gov Cuomo’s excuses for nursing home death data: ‘Trash. No one believes you.’

New York Democrats railed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his, at times, tortured explanations on Monday regarding his administration’s effort to downplay or hide the actual number of nursing home deaths in the state from COVID-19.

“I reiterate my call for @NYGovCuomo and his administration to be subpoenaed for all pertinent information. We need answers and grieving families deserve justice. Enough with the spin,” state Sen. Jessica Ramos tweeted Monday afternoon.

The criticism from members of his own party stems from a bombshell report last week by the New York Post which contained excerpts of an audio recording in which Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, appeared to admit the administration purposefully hid the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes because officials feared then-President Donald Trump would order a federal probe.

But at a press conference Monday, Cuomo gave a disputed explanation for the manner in which his government dealt with data requests for COVID-19 deaths in the state’s elder care facilities.

He told reporters that federal Department of Justice officials made a request for data last summer at roughly the same time state lawmakers did. He went on to say that his administration “paused” requests from state lawmakers to focus primarily on the federal line of inquiry.

“We gave precedence to the DOJ. We told the assembly that, we told the Senate that and that’s what we did. We were also in the midst of managing a pandemic,” the Democratic governor said.

He also claimed if there were disconnects between New York lawmakers and his office, it was due to a “breakdown in communication between the staff and members of the legislature.”

Several Democrats, including Ramos, pushed back against that explanation, claiming that Cuomo’s office never informed them of the decision to prioritize the DoJ request.

“Trash. No one believes you,” she tweeted. 

She added: “At no point did the Administration notify the legislature about a DOJ investigation. People died and Cuomo lied then he had the gall to write a book.”

At one point, Cuomo sought to blame nursing home healthcare workers and visitors for bringing COVID into facilities.

“To NY’ers watching Cuomo’s press conference — it is riddled with lies, theatre, & deflection,” state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi wrote on Twitter.

Prior to the New York Post story, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office released a report in which investigators determined that Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of COVID nursing home deaths by 50 percent.

In a separate tweet, Biaggi accused Cuomo of lying about informing lawmakers.

“No, @NYGovCuomo, you did not tell the *entire* Senate or Assembly that there was a DOJ investigation, as the reason why you didn’t share the nursing home numbers. I found out about a DOJ investigation with the rest of NY’ers in the @nypost story Thursday night,” she wrote. 

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera also pushed back.

So, too, did officials with the office of New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Let me be clear, the Governor’s office reached out to staff and said they needed more time to supply information requested by the members. They were not asking for permission and it wasn’t a negotiation. It was merely a heads up,” Heastie’s communications director, Mike Whyland, wrote on Twitter Monday.

“They simply said that it would not be ready by the time the Chair and the members requested it. Other than what was in the news, the Speaker had no knowledge of an official DOJ inquiry,” Whyland added.

NY lawmaker Ron Kim also sounded off on the governor:

New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R) is calling for revoking Cuomo’s emergency powers as well as an investigation into his actions.

“There is bipartisan support for: 1) revoking the emergency powers; 2) issuing subpoenas and convening a joint hearing; 3) releasing the tapes and information to the public; 4) asking DOJ to investigate. Let’s all come together to get the truth for NYers,” he tweeted.

For his part, Cuomo said that the New York legislative bodies were “wrong” to claim that they weren’t told about the data request delay, though he regretted those delays and added they “should have been prioritized.”

“The void we created misinformation and created more anxieties for the families of loved ones,” he said.

Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean, a long-time critic of Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes after losing both of her parents-in-law in New York to the disease, also ripped the governor’s denials.

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Jon Dougherty

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