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Cuomo's national star threatened by increased scrutiny over handling of nursing home deaths

February 20, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 23%. 2 min read.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to members of New York state's Electoral College before voting for President and Vice President in the Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol in Albany, New York on December 14, 2020. - Joe Biden's march to the White House -- overshadowed by President Donald Trump's frantic attempts to overturn the US election -- is to be formalized when the Electoral College meets to confirm the Democrat's win. (Photo by Hans Pennink / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HANS PENNINK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

During New York's darkest pandemic days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged as one of the country's brightest political stars.

But Cuomo's image -- of a competent, hands-on executive -- has suffered a fierce blow over the past few weeks, following new revelations that his administration underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York nursing home patients, according to a state attorney general report, and then delayed sharing potentially damaging information with state lawmakers.

Cuomo's recent troubles began in late January, when New York state Attorney General Tish James released a report that found the administration had undercounted Covid-related nursing home deaths by as much as 50%.

Two weeks later, the governor's top aide in a call with Democratic state lawmakers admitted that Cuomo's team put off an August request for data from long-term care facilities over fears the information would be "used against us" as part of an inquiry launched by then-President Donald Trump's Justice Department.

In a now public transcript of the virtual meeting that set off the firestorm, which was first reported on by the New York Post, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa accused Trump of turning the nursing home issue into "political football" and then directing "a political hack" at the Justice Department to begin an inquiry into New York and other Democratic-led states.

Cuomo had previously faced criticism in New York over a directive in late March that barred nursing homes that met certain standards from refusing to take back Covid patients returning from hospitals.

The month before the Emmy announcement, Cuomo released a book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," which quickly appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.

The next step, some state Democratic lawmakers have said, is a push to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers, which have allowed him to act decisively on a variety of issues, like business openings and closures.

The debate has spread beyond the state capitol, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who slammed Cuomo earlier in the week over reports of the governor's intimidating phone calls, and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez coming out in support of their efforts.

Ocasio-Cortez, in a statement, also backed "a full investigation of the Cuomo administration's handling of nursing homes during COVID-19," echoing State Sen. Jessica Ramos.

But Democrats, including Cuomo's rivals, have so far rejected the prospect of seeking the governor's resignation or beginning an impeachment process called for by New York Republicans.

Nearly a year after his press conferences made him into a national star, with some Democrats floating him as a presidential contender -- never mind that then-candidate Joe Biden had already locked up the party's nomination -- Cuomo is now in what many New York politicos view as the most fraught position of his long political life.

The survey, which was conducted more than a week after the unveiling of the state attorney general report but before the details of DeRosa's call were made public, found that Cuomo's overall position was largely unchanged from a month ago.

The latter figures were absent from a statement released on Tuesday morning by New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, a Cuomo ally, who touted the friendlier findings.

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