Andrew Cuomo must be feeling very John the Baptist these days as Democrats join Republicans in calling for the New York governor’s head on a platter. Putting people with COVID into nursing homes may be a dereliction of duty, but lying about the number of deaths caused by such an action and then covering it up constitute political suicide.
The Noose Tightens
An increasingly shrill Amen chorus has formed a ring around Cuomo, like a noose tightening around his neck. Recently, when his aide Melissa DeRosa tried to deflect the responsibility onto the Trump administration by issuing a semi-apology, those crying foul from both parties reached a fever pitch. Blaming the former president has been an oft-utilized and effective maneuver for those on the left; however, this time it fell flat.
Cuomo has been reaping negative “killing off grandma” headlines for some time now, but a 76-page report by the New York attorney general claiming that he underreported the death toll “by more than 50%” has generated a political lynch mob. Among those in his party calling for Cuomo to come clean are State Senators Jessica Ramos and Rachel May, Assemblyman Ron Kim, and about a dozen others serving in the New York state legislature.
Brotherly Love and the CNN Connection
As the scandal continues to widen, news reports across the political spectrum have noted that Cuomo’s brother — CNN TV host Chris — has remained mum on the subject. This omission has led to articles highlighting that nary a tweet or reference to the gathering storm has passed little brother’s lips or fingers. Fox News quoted Chris defending his position by saying, “He’s my big brother. I love him. Of course, I’m not objective, but let’s call it straight. Look at the state, look at the numbers …”
Therein lies the rub. The governor and his satraps appear to have been caught reporting phony numbers and, when exposed, have boldly tried to cover them up and redirect blame. This effort has led to calls for both brothers to be removed from their positions of power. As Fox News reported on Feb. 15, “Embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s catastrophic failure surrounding the state’s growing nursing home scandal represents a permanent stain on a legacy tainted with deceit, chaos and thousands of deaths, critics are saying — and he could be taking his younger brother down with him.”
While no one would put the Cuomos in the same league as the Kennedys, this second-generation political family increasingly finds its legacy in a perilous situation that could ultimately bring down the house of cards.
This is quite a turnabout for the New York governor who was hailed at the start of the COVID crisis for his often-fiery press conferences. Now it looks for all the world like the dreaded political “I” word — investigation — is about to enter the scene. The Department of Justice is in the process of reviewing what has been reported, when and by whom, regarding New York’s coronavirus deaths. DeRosa was quoted in the New York Post as confessing:
“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.”
Recognizing that her comment smacked of a cover-up, she tried to weasel out a few days later, but it was seemingly too little, too late.
When the DOJ sticks its nose into this messy Cuomo COVID caper, things are likely to unravel, and the finger-pointing is expected to increase calls for the governor to resign. In the end, Andrew Cuomo might have done well to take a page from the Richard Nixon handbook, which plainly states that it always comes down to the cover-up.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.