In a video conference call with Democratic leaders in New York, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa offered a stunning admission that Governor Cuomo's administration lied about the actual COVID-19 death toll in the state's nursing homes.
The top aide apologized for the deception, saying that the Cuomo team was paralyzed with fear that the actual numbers would "be used against [them]" by federal prosecutors.
DeRosa said the deceit was due to former President Donald Trump turning the issue of nursing home deaths into a "giant political football."
"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," she said in the video call.
DeRosa said that after Trump ordered a Department of Justice investigation into the issue, the Cuomo administration "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," she explained.
The top Cuomo aide asked state Democrat lawmakers for "a little bit of appreciation of the context," before apologizing not to grieving families, but to lawmakers who could be damaged politically by the administration's choices.
"So we do apologize," DeRosa said. "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."
One Democrat assemblyman who was in on the call took issue with the apology.
"[T]hey admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence that might put the administration or the [Health Department] in further trouble with the Department of Justice," he said. "That's how I understand their reasoning of why they were unable to share, in real time, the data. They had to first make sure that the state was protected against federal investigation."
Governor Cuomo himself recently addressed the issue of nursing home fatalities by flippantly declaring, "Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died."
The Biden administration has apparently ended any investigation into the state's manipulation of nursing home death totals.