- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s “nothing new” that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is using “bullying” tactics against state lawmakers and journalists as his administration faces a federal investigation into how it handled data about COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state.

“It’s a sad thing to say, Mika, but that’s classic Andrew Cuomo,” the Democratic mayor told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski Thursday morning. “A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls. The bullying is nothing new.”

The comments come after Democratic New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim said Wednesday that Mr. Cuomo threatened to “destroy” his career if he did not stand in support of the administration over its treatment of COVID-19 positive nursing home patients and the reporting of nursing home deaths.

Since Mr. Kim made the allegations, multiple Democratic lawmakers and journalists have come forward to allege similar bullying tactics used by Mr. Cuomo and his staff. The governor’s office has accused Mr. Kim of “lying.”

Mr. de Blasio said he “100 percent” believes Mr. Kim’s recollection of his conversation with the governor, because the “script” is often the same.

“I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad,” Mr. de Blasio said. “No public servant, no person who is telling the truth should be treated that way. But, yeah, the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right at that moment — many, many times I’ve heard that and I know a lot of other people in the state have heard that.

“The truth has not come out yet, and we need it,” he said. “And the notion that information was held back for political convenience instead of the blunt truth coming out so we could save lives? Something is profoundly wrong there.”

The U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI have begun a preliminary investigation into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home residents during the pandemic, after it was revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.

While he was praised early in the pandemic and even received an Emmy award for his response to the virus, Mr. Cuomo now faces massive bipartisan backlash after the governor’s top aide said they purposely withheld the real death toll out of fears it could be used against them politically.

Mr. Cuomo said Monday he did not hide COVID-19 nursing home deaths but was guilty of creating an informational “void” that was filled by “conspiracy theories” after delaying the state legislature’s request for nursing home data to prioritize an August request from the Justice Department.

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