NEW YORK, NY – Mayor Bill Blasio on Thursday said he believes a Democratic Assemblyman’s claims that he was “bullied” by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – who allegedly threatened to “destroy” him – during a phone call connected to the ongoing COVID-19 nursing home controversy in his state.
“Yeah, it’s a sad thing to say, but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo. A lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls,” de Blasio said while being interviewed on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. “The bullying is nothing new. I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad. No public servant, no person who is telling the truth, should be treated that way.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim has spoken out against Cuomo after it was revealed that the Governor’s secretary, Melissa DeRosa, admitted in a phone call that state officials had withheld the full nursing home death toll – allegedly cutting the number of deaths in half – out of fear that the data could “be used against us” by the U.S. Department of Justice. The revelation spiked calls for an probe into the incident.
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Kim, who had an uncle die of COVID-19 in a nursing home, had been a part of the phone call with DeRosa and has been critical of the Cuomo Administration’s alleged nursing home cover-up. On Tuesday, Kim – along with eight other Democratic state Assembly members – said in a letter that it was “unambiguously clear” that Cuomo engaged in “criminal use of power” and intentionally obstructed justice.
Kim claims that Cuomo – who is also a Democrat – personally called him on February 11, asking him if he was an “honorable man.” Cuomo, according to Kim, would then go on to ask Kim to issue a statement saying that “Melissa DeRosa said there was a federal investigation and they had to deal with that first.”
The conversation quickly took a dark turn, Kim alleged, when Cuomo – who began yelling loud enough for Kim’s wife to hear – said that, “You have not seen my wrath. I have been biting my tongue for months. I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished. You will be destroyed.”
Cuomo was so angry, Kim said, that “my wife could hear the governor yelling into the phone.”
A spokesman from Cuomo’s office denied that the Governor ever threatened Kim, and accused the Assemblyman of “lying about his conversation.”