Stefanik’s fiery statement followed a bombshell New York Post report alleging that a top Cuomo aide apologized to political damage Democrats suffered over the coronavirus’ nursing home death toll by appearing to blame the delayed release of data, in part, on the Trump administration.
“Governor Cuomo, the secretary to the governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the attorney general of New York state and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Stefanik said. “This bombshell admission of a cover-up and the remarks by the secretary to the governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power.”
Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa told top state Democrats that the Cuomo administration had withheld data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny following a federal probe into the issue in several states, according to the Post report.
In a leaked conference call with Democratic lawmakers, she said the administration feared the data could “be used against us” by the Justice Department.
“We explained that the Trump administration was in the midst of a politically motivated effort to blame Democratic states for COVID deaths,” senior Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi said Thursday evening. “And that we were cooperating with federal document productions — and that was the priority. And now that it is over, we can address the state Legislature.”
But the call prompted condemnations from New York Republicans at all levels of government – with the state party chairman Nick Langworthy calling for Cuomo’s impeachment and the state Assembly’s Minority Leader William Barclay demanding subpoenas and hearings.
“Instead of apologizing or providing answer to the thousands of New York families who lost loved ones, the governor’s administration made apologies to politicians behind closed doors for the ‘political inconvenience’ this scandal has caused them,” said New York State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, who demanded a “top to bottom” investigation and that Cuomo’s emergency powers be stripped until it’s sorted out.
“If the governor is involved, he should be immediately removed from office,” Ortt said.
Cuomo is scheduled to meet with President Biden during a conference on COVID relief with a bipartisan group of mayors and governors Friday.
“It is the responsibility of the president to ensure the independence of the Department of Justice,” Stefanik said. “After the self-implicating admission by Gov. Cuomo and his staff, it is clear to every American that this investigation must go forward.”