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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday tried to dig himself out of the biggest hole of his career by blaming politics for the controversy engulfing his administration following The Post’s revelation that his top aide admitted withholding data about nursing home deaths amid a federal probe.
During a virtual news conference at which he declined to take a question from The Post, Cuomo claimed that “there’s nothing to investigate” regarding the cover-up to which Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa confessed during a video conference call with Democratic lawmakers last week.
Cuomo — who never directly addressed DeRosa’s recorded remarks in which she admiited “we froze” over whether to come clean to the Justice Department about nursing home deaths — also repeated his defense of a much-criticized March 25 directive from the Health Department for nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals.
Cuomo said there’d been “much distortion” regarding the since-rescinded order, which he said was issued by “professionals doing the best they could” and following guidance from the federal government.
Cuomo also again claimed that the state had always reported the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19 — even though it only began releasing figures on those who died in hospitals after a damning report last month by state Attorney General Letitia James, a fellow Democrat.
This past year, there is a toxic political environment and everything is political,” Cuomo said during the news conference in Albany.
“There is political positions and there are facts.”
Cuomo repeatedly said he took responsibility for “the void” of official information that he claimed led to conspiracy theories and “disinformation” amid the pandemic.
“No excuses. I accept responsibility for that. I’m in charge,” he said.
“We were too focused on doing the job and addressing the crisis of the moment…It created confusion, cynicism and pain for the families of loved ones
But Cuomo pushed back against a bipartisan move to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers in the wake of DeRosa’s remarks.
“Emergency powers have nothing to do with nursing homes,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said legislators “can reverse any action I take.”
“They have never reversed a single action,” Cuomo said.
“These are public health decisions, not local political decisions.”
Cuomo said that “this virus is serious” and that “it’s difficult to close schools, close restaurants.”
“These decisions should be not be politicized,” he said.
“More people will die.”
Cuomo’s news conference marked his first public comments since outrage that erupted last week after The Post obtained an audio recording of revealed DeRosa’s comments on Wednesday night.
During the two-hour-plus meeting, DeRosa said Cuomo’s administration rebuffed a legislative request for nursing death data because “we froze” after being contacted by federal prosecutors.
“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,” DeRosa said.
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