You know you're in trouble when your own party turns against you. That's the lesson New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is learning, or should be learning, right now.
Washington Times reporter Valerie Richardson explained yesterday on Washington Watch that "there is quite a bit of momentum right now into at the very least a state investigation," and quite possibly a federal investigation as well. But it's not just Republicans, she said: "There is increasing pressure in the Democratic Party to do something about the Cuomo scandal." Too bad it took them nine months after the scandal broke to do anything.
New York was America's first and deadliest hotspot of the coronavirus pandemic, driven in large part by poor policymaking from the very top. Governor Cuomo forced nursing homes to accept Covid-positive patients who were discharged from hospitals, placing New York's most vulnerable citizens at the greatest risk of exposure. But instead of quickly reversing course when it became clear this would be a disaster, Cuomo dragged his feet for six weeks. Then to dig his own hole deeper, Governor Cuomo helped to cover up the extent of this problem, underreporting the nursing home deaths (in which he was complicit) by as much as 50 percent. That's according to a report by New York's attorney general, who is herself a Democrat. In other words, Cuomo lied; people died.
Shockingly, Governor Cuomo still refuses to come clean. Last week, an aide only apologized for the political inconvenience, and not the actual deaths. But in a Monday press conference Cuomo remained on the defensive:
So there is nothing to investigate. All the numbers we produced were exactly right. We didn't provide all the information that was requested. That did create a void and misinformation did fill the void. And that misinformation gave people aggravation, and confused people, and confused people who lost a loved one, and allowed conspiracy theories to fester. And that aggravated people who lost a loved one, because now you don't know what to believe. And that is the last thing anyone wanted to create.
To be clear, by "misinformation," Cuomo means the real number of nursing home patients who died from Covid-19 as a result of his policies, which his own Attorney General says could be up to twice as much as the number he reported. And by "conspiracy theories," Cuomo means the attempted coverup, which his own staff have admitted to. But never mind, he says, "there is nothing to investigate." Really?
It's not just Republicans, said Richardson. "Democrats are really having none of it at this point." Democratic leaders in the state legislature are "contradicting what he said at his press conference." Democratic state legislators "are tweeting about how he needs to tell what happened and disclose more and be more transparent." Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim said specifically he was "lying" in his Monday press conference. I guess this explains why Governor Cuomo receive the international Emmy for his masterful Covid-19 briefings. He really was acting.
Governor Cuomo defiantly refuses to accept responsibility for his decisions. He tried to sweep it under the rug. Then he tried to blame everyone under the sun, including the victims themselves. At this point, it seems even his own party has begun to see him as a liability. Richardson reports that "the minimum the state legislature could do at this point would be to revoke his emergency powers, which they appear to be poised to do." That seems like a step states beyond New York should take.