During an interview with Bloomberg Wednesday, de Blasio said he supported the idea of forming an independent ‘Moreland Commission’ – using the Moreland Act – to probe claims Cuomo purposely under-reported the death toll in state nursing homes.
‘The whole thing has to be examined,’ de Blasio insisted. ‘We need the full truth.
‘It’s extraordinarily troubling on a human level because we don’t even know what it would’ve meant — how many lives might’ve been saved if things had been done differently.’
Cuomo is already being investigated by the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn over the alleged cover-up.
If enacted, the Moreland Act allows the governor, in person or through those appointed by the governor, to investigate the management and affairs of any department, board, bureau or commission in New York state.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a blue-ribbon commission to investigate state Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his alleged nursing home cover-up
De Blasio’s comments seemed to come as a thinly veiled dig at Cuomo’s since-rescinded March 25 order to permit COVID-19 patients to be sent from hospitals to nursing homes, as it was believed then that they were not infectious anymore.
More than 15,000 people have died in New York state’s nursing homes and long term care facilities from the virus, but as recently as last month, the state reported only 8,500 deaths.
The numbers, while accounted for in the full state death totals to the state, were not ascribed to nursing homes for residents who died in hospitals rather than within the facilities.
However, de Blasio told Bloomberg that any investigation to assess what went wrong under Cuomo’s rule needs to be about looking forward, rather than looking just backwards.
‘It certainly is not just about looking backward. It’s about looking forward,’ de Blasio said ‘We need to learn these lessons now — what happened here and what needs to be different in the future.
‘These are our seniors; these are our elders. They were left in an incredibly vulnerable situation, and there was not enough accountability.’
Hizzoner continued: ‘And it begs the larger point of whether there’s enough accountability when it comes to the state of New York and its actions in general. And certainly, it’s time for the state of emergency powers to be curtailed and restore control to localities who are much more accountable by nature.
‘I think this is an object lesson of why we’ve got to get localities positioned again to address the needs of their people and not be hamstrung constantly by the state.’
But de Blasio told Bloomberg that any investigation to assess what went wrong under Cuomo’s rule needs to be about looking forward, rather than looking just backwards
De Blasio said he wonders ‘how many lives might’ve been saved’ had Cuomo handled nursing homes differently
Whether the 1907 Moreland Act will be invoked over the nursing home scandal remains to be seen.
Cuomo created a Moreland Commission on Political Corruption in 2013 but shut it down the following year as part of a deal to pass a package of ethics reform, the NY Post reported.
Manhattan’s District Attorney at the time, Preet Bharara, later seized the panel’s records and used them in successful prosecutions of two lawmakers.
Bharara also investigated what he called Cuomo’s ‘premature closing’ of the commission, but announced in 2016 that without ‘additional proof…there is insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.’
While a Moreland Commission currently seems far out of reach, Cuomo is currently being investigated by the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn.
First reported by the Times Union, the investigation is said to be in its early stages but is focusing on Cuomo’s coronavirus task force – whose members include attorney Linda Lacewell, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa.
It was DeRosa who is said to have admitted the administration withheld data on the nursing home deaths from state lawmakers, fearing an official investigation from the federal government.
Adding to his mounting woes, New York State Assembly Republicans on Thursday proposed an ‘impeachment commission’ to investigate Cuomo’s alleged nursing homes cover-up.
New York State Assembly Republicans on Thursday proposed an ‘impeachment commission’ to investigate Andrew Cuomo’s alleged cover-up of the COVID-19 crisis in nursing homes. Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, left, tweeted they ‘will introduce a measure to begin the process’ a day after it was confirmed the FBI and US Attorney’s office in Brooklyn are also investigating the scandal. Cuomo is right
New York State Assembly Republicans on Thursday proposed an ‘impeachment commission’
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay tweeted that Republicans ‘will introduce a measure to begin the process.’
‘The Cuomo Administration’s nursing home cover-up is one of the most alarming scandals we’ve seen in state government,’ Barclay said.
‘Intentionally withholding critical information from the public, underreporting fatality numbers by 50 percent and the recent revelation they hid the truth to avoid a federal Department of Justice investigation are among the factors that raise the serious possibility of criminality.’
He issued a statement which said the commission would be bipartisan and consist of eight members and have a 60 day deadline to carry out its work.
It would be able to subpoena witnesses and ask for documents in order to ‘examine the state’s method of administration and conduct in all matters relating to nursing homes and long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Cuomo said earlier this week the state didn’t cover up deaths, but should have moved faster to release information. ‘No excuses: I accept responsibility for that,’ he said at a news conference.
State Democratic Party chairman Jay Jacobs said: ‘I think it’s outrageous that the Republican leadership in the Assembly would speak to politicize the pandemic, the work of the governor and the state health authorities on the handling of the pandemic.’
Only one New York governor has been impeached and convicted, William Sulzer in 1913.
Inquiries into the growing scandal began months ago in the Justice Department’s civil division, and parts of it have previously been disclosed publicly. On August 26, federal prosecutors gave Cuomo´s administration 14 days to provide data on nursing home deaths. More data was sought in October.
The Cuomo administration had not been cooperative with prosecutors, especially in the early stages of the probe, and for months had not produced documents and other data the Justice Department had requested, sources told the Associated Press Thursday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Andrew Cuomo for ‘bullying’ a state lawmaker who claimed the governor threatened to ‘destroy’ him unless he helped cover up the COVID-19 nursing home scandal
Kim believes that his uncle died from a presumed case of COVID in a nursing home last year
Also Thursday, de Blasio slammed Cuomo for ‘bullying’ state lawmaker Ron Kim who claimed the governor threatened to ‘destroy’ him unless he helped to covered up the COVID nursing home scandal.
Speaking to MSNBC, de Blasio said: ‘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. The bullying is nothing new.’
De Blasio went on to say that he ‘100 per cent’ believes Kim.
‘It’s very, very sad, no public servant no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way,’ de Blasio said.
‘The threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment many many times I’ve heard that and I know a lot of other people in this state have heard that.’
Kim told CNN on Wednesday that the governor berated him during a phone call. He accused Cuomo of threatening him into issuing a statement ‘that invalidated what I heard. He asked me to lie to cover up for his staff’.
‘Governor Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said,’ Kim told the network.
‘He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience.’
Kim continued: ‘I was right about to bathe my kids. It really just put, you know, my family and my wife into shock and trauma for many hours, she couldn’t get any sleep that night.’