New York Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim on Monday repeated his calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to be removed from office, accusing the governor of asking him to "lie and cover everything up" regarding the COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
During an interview on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Kim said he felt obligated to challenge the governor after Cuomo allegedly threatened to "destroy" him for speaking out about how the Cuomo administration covered up nursing home deaths.
"It wasn't the bullying," Kim told Fox News. "The moment he crossed that line and ordered me to issue a statement that covered up what his top aide's admission of obstructing justice, that's what really motivated and pushed me to come out in public and push back."
In February, the New York Post reported that top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa apologized to Democratic lawmakers for hiding data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes to shield Gov. Cuomo from political fallout for his executive order placing positive COVID-19 patients in those homes. Assemblyman Kim, whose uncle died in a nursing home in April after suffering the coronavirus symptoms, became one of Cuomo's fiercest critics.
"I've fought along with [Fox News'] Janice Dean and others for 10 months to give these families the voice that they lacked and then in one second the governor wanted me to lie and cover everything up to protect him. And I wasn't going to have that," Kim said.
"In a private meeting [DeRosa] admitted that there was a cover-up and she implicated all of us, not just the members but the institutions, the Senate and the Assembly, and the moment she did that it no longer became a private conversation," he added. "The public had right to know and we have a duty to report to the public that this is what's going on with the executive and we need to check the governor and we need to do our jobs to get to the truth."
Cuomo has denied the allegation that he threatened Kim over the phone and accused the lawmaker of being a liar.
Kim pointed out that Cuomo is, in fact, the one who has been caught in a lie. The New York Times recently reported leaked audio audio of a 2018 phone conversation Cuomo had with Bill Lipton, the leader of the Working Families Party in New York. On the phone call, Cuomo castigated Lipton for the party's messaging that Cuomo is "better than a Republican," saying, "if you ever say, 'Well he's better than a Republican' again then I'm going to say, 'You're better than a child rapist' — how about that."
Text of the conversation had been previously reported in February. At the time, Cuomo's office said the report was not true.
"First they denied it, they lied" and claimed he never said that, Kim said. "And then when they get caught red-handed they punt and they deflect and come up with something else. The point is they lie, they deflect, and they cover up. And the public has had enough.
"We've had enough of his abusive behaviors, abuse of power, and he needs to be removed so we can get back to protecting the people of New York."