De Blasio unloads on Cuomo, backs Dem who says he was threatened: 'The bullying is nothing new'
New York lawmaker claims Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to destroy him
FOX News correspondent Bryan Llenas joins ‘Special Report’ with the latest on the nursing home scandal
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio backed up New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim following a report that Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened Kim during a heated phone call.
And during a press conference Thursday, de Blasio also renewed calls for a probe into the nursing home controversy.
“There clearly needs to be a full investigation,” de Blasio said. “We’re talking about thousands of people who were lost, our seniors, our elders, families that still dont know the truth and questions need to be answered to make sure nothing like this happens again. There absolutely needs to be a full investigation.”
The New York Post had reported that, according to Kim, Cuomo called the assemblyman on Feb. 11 after the newspaper reported that Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa acknowledged withholding nursing home death numbers in order to avoid possible consequences from the Justice Department. Kim had spoken out against Cuomo’s adminitration following that report, and during the call Cuomo reportedly asked Kim if he was “an honorable man,” and threatened that Kim “will be finished” and “destroyed.”
“Yeah, it’s a sad thing to say,” de Blasio told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. “But that’s classic Andrew Cuomo. A lot of people in New York State have received those phone calls.”
According to the Post, Cuomo had said on the call that he wanted Kim to prepare a statement saying that DeRosa “said there was a federal investigation and they had to deal with that first.” This has been Cuomo’s claim when accused by Kim and others of obstruction. Kim had already publicly commented that DeRosa’s admission – which took place during a call that Kim was on – sounded “like they admitted that they were trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence.”
Kim claimed that Cuomo told him he could “tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished,” the Post reported.
WHO CUOMO HAS BLAMED – OTHER THAN HIMSELF – FOR THE NURSING HOME SCANDAL
After the Post reported on the alleged threat, Cuomo adviser Rich Azzopardi accused Kim of making up the details of the conversation.
“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 added. “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.”
De Blasio, however, said he believes Kim’s account and that Cuomo’s alleged words are an example of the sort of behavior that governor has displayed in the past.
“You know, the bullying is nothing new. I believe Ron Kim, and it’s very, very sad,” de Blasio said. “No public servant, no person who’s telling the truth should be treated that way. But yeah, the threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment – many, many times I’ve heard that, and I know a lot of other people in this state have heard that.”
During a later press conference Thursday morning, de Blasio was asked who he believes and if he has had tough conversations with Cuomo. “I believe Ron Kim,” he said. “First of all you can just see just by what he’s saying it’s from the heart and it was a very painful experience for him. I believe him and he did not deserve to be treated that way and I admire him for coming forward and telling exactly what happened.”
While Azzopardi denied that Cuomo threatened to “destroy” Kim, Cuomo did go on the attack when speaking to reporters on Wednesday, saying that his office and Kim have had a “long and hostile relationship.”
In response to a letter that Kim and eight other Democratic state lawmakers signed in which they accused Cuomo of obstruction, Cuomo brought up a dispute over a bill in 2015, alleging that Kim had changed positions on protections for nail salon workers due to campaign contributions from salon owners.
Cuomo also claimed that Kim got his former lobbying firm involved to help the owners.
The governor described what Kim did as “pay-to-play” and said that Kim’s behavior “was unethical, if not illegal.”
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Following this, Kim released a statement blasting Cuomo for his behavior regarding him as well as the nursing home scandal.
“The governor can smear me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his fatally incompetent management,” Kim said. “But these facts are not going away because they are the facts – unacceptable facts that hold him accountable.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.
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