Calls to Prosecute NY Gov Cuomo as Top Aide Admits Nursing Home Death Toll Cover-Up
Democrat New York governor's aide Melissa DeRosa admits they hid data from public
Calls are mounting for New York's Democrat governor, Andrew Cuomo, to face prosecution after his top aide admitted that his office covered-up the true number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state.
On Thursday night, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa dropped a bombshell admission that their administration hid damning information about deaths among nursing home patients.
DeRosa made the stunning confession made during a conference call with New York state Democrats that was obtained by The New York Post.
According to DeRosa, Cuomo covered-up the scandal over fears that it would be used against them in an investigation by President Donald Trump's Department of Justice.
Cuomo officials "froze" in August when the state legislature asked for the data, before rebuffing the request, DeRosa admitted.
"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, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren't sure if there was going to be an investigation," DeRosa told lawmakers.
The data remained secret for months until January when a shock report from NY Attorney General Letitia James' office said the state had undercounted the number of nursing home deaths by as much as 50 percent.
It forced New York State’s Department of Health to reveal that the true death toll among nursing home residents was 12,743, rather than the previously acknowledged 8,711.
New York had previously only counted residents who died in nursing homes and left out 4,000 residents who were taken to hospital and died there, according to The Daily Mail.
Republican New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik said Thursday's revelations of a cover-up showed a "stunning and criminal abuse of power," and led demands for Cuomo's prosecution.
A March 25 directive from Governor Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept thousands of COVID-positive patients when they were discharged from hospital - potentially spreading sickness and death among residents, a charge the state disputes.
DeRosa's shocking admission came shortly before the Associated Press revealed that more than 9,000 patients were sent back to nursing homes - a figure 40 percent higher than official data.
In the call on Thursday, DeRosa admitted they deliberately hid the data from state legislators, after the Trump administration began asking questions.
The Department of Justice announced it had opened an investigation on August 26 into "governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents."
She said state Democrats asked for the data in August, "right around the same time, [President Trump] turns this into a giant political football."
DeRosa added: "He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes.
"He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer."
Trump, also, she said, "directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.
"And basically, we froze.
"Because then 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, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren't sure if there was going to be an investigation.
"That played a very large role into this."
DeRosa then asked for "a little bit of appreciation of the context."
She then offered the Democrat lawmakers an apology for the "political position" that Cuomo's order put them in.
She told the officials: "We do apologize.
"I do understand the position that you were put in.
"I know that it is not fair.
"It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans."