- The Washington Times - Friday, February 12, 2021

The New York Republican Party is calling for “prosecution and impeachment discussions” to begin immediately regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration’s handling and alleged cover-up of nursing home COVID-19 deaths in the state.

“The second-most powerful person in state government and top aide to Governor Cuomo admitted on video to the premeditated and willful violation of state laws and what clearly amounts to federal obstruction of justice,” Chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement Friday. “Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor. Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away.”

The statement comes after a report by the New York Post quoted Mr. Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, as privately telling a group of top Democratic lawmakers Wednesday that the administration withheld data in an effort to forestall the former Trump administration’s potential federal investigations into state misconduct.

“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, and what we start saying, was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” Ms. DeRosa said during the virtual meeting, according to a partial transcript obtained by The New York Times.

Ms. DeRosa issued a statement Friday seeking to clarify her remarks.

“I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first,” she said in a statement. “We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout. As I said on a call with legislators, we could not fulfill their request as quickly as anyone would have liked. But we are committed to being better partners going forward as we share the same goal of keeping New Yorkers as healthy as possible during the pandemic.”

Ms. DeRosa’s remarks came two weeks after state Attorney General Letitia James said the Cuomo administration undercounted nursing home deaths by as much as 50% because it excluded the nursing home residents who died after being transferred to the hospital in the tally.

The new number of deaths is now nearly 15,000, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed. The Associated Press also reported Thursday that 9,056 recovering patients were sent to hundreds of nursing homes, and that the number is more than 40% higher than what the state health department previously released.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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