A New York state legislator said state Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to destroy him last week, according to a report.
Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens said the incident took place Thursday night during a heated phone call — a call that followed the disclosure that the Cuomo administration had hidden from lawmakers the full scope of the state’s massive death toll of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19.
“At first, there was a silence on the phone,” Kim said, according to the New York Post. “Then the governor says, ‘Mr. Kim, are you an honorable man?’”
Kim said Cuomo asked him to draft a statement “to say that Melissa DeRosa said there was a federal investigation and they had to deal with that first.”
DeRosa, who is secretary to the governor, had told Democratic legislators the day before that the Cuomo administration hid the numbers for fear of a federal investigation. Kim was among the legislators who criticized the Cuomo administration for its actions that led to the deaths of more than 13,000 nursing home residents, including Kim’s uncle.
According to the assemblyman, Cuomo told Kim, “You have not seen my wrath. I have been biting my tongue for months.”
“I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished,” Kim recalled Cuomo saying to him.
“You will be destroyed.”
“My wife could hear the governor yelling into the phone,” Kim said. “After that call, we were devastated. My wife didn’t sleep at all.”
Kim made a similar comment to CNN.
“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim told the outlet.
Kim said he was told, “we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
“No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life,” Kim said. “At some point he tried to humiliate me, asking: ‘Are you a lawyer? I didn’t think so. You’re not a lawyer.’ It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I’m glad I didn’t.”
During a Wednesday media briefing, Cuomo hurled allegations at Kim, and accused him of flip-flopping on a 2015 law regulating nail salons because businesses in his community got upset, according to Newsweek.
“He actually used his lobbying firm to lobby on behalf of the business owners … then raised money from those business owners and continues to do so,” Cuomo said. “I believe it’s unethical, if not illegal. I believe it’s a continuing racket because he’s still doing it.”
Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, stepped up the attacks on Kim, according to Fox News.
“Mr. Kim is lying about his conversation with Governor Cuomo Thursday night. I know because I was one of three other people in the room when the phone call occurred,” Azzopardi said. “At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup.’ That’s beyond the pale and is unfortunately part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.”
“We did ask for Mr. Kim to do the honorable thing and put out a truthful statement after he told the Governor he was misquoted in a news article, which he said he tried to correct but the reporter refused,” Azzopardi said. “Kim said he would correct the story and then broke his word. No surprise. Instead over the last six days he has baselessly accused this administration of pay to play and obstruction of justice.”
After Azzopardi’s statement came out, Kim told CNN he “100 percent” stood by his story.
On Jan. 29, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said the numbers showed 12,743 nursing home residents died of COVID-19, one day after the acknowledged total rested at only 8,711, according to the New York Post.
Then last week, Zucker said the number of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 was a total of 13,297, a statistic that rises to 15,049 when factoring in assisted living and adult care facilities.
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