Describing an alleged alternate with the governor that has not been beforehand reported, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim informed CNN that he acquired a name on his cellphone from the governor final week as he was bathing his youngsters at residence.
“Gov. Cuomo referred to as me straight on Thursday to threaten my profession if I didn’t cowl up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she mentioned. He tried to stress me to challenge a press release, and it was a really traumatizing expertise,” Kim mentioned. Cuomo proceeded to inform the assemblyman that “we’re on this enterprise collectively and we do not cross sure traces and he mentioned I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me,” in response to Kim.
Cuomo’s adviser denied that the governor threatened to destroy Kim.
DeRosa is a prime aide to the governor who got here below hearth final week after she informed state lawmakers in a non-public digital assembly that the state had delayed sharing with the legislature the total scope of the Covid-related dying toll of New York’s nursing residence residents due to issues a few potential federal investigation by the Division of Justice. (The governor’s workplace has since launched a partial transcript of the decision.)
Kim, a progressive representing Queens who has been among the many most vocal critics of Cuomo’s dealing with of nursing properties in the course of the pandemic and believes his personal uncle died from a presumed case of Covid in a nursing residence final 12 months, participated in that digital name. Through the assembly, Kim mentioned he referred to as on the governor to apologize to members of the family of those that died in assisted dwelling amenities. When the New York Publish first reported on DeRosa’s controversial feedback, he was one of many contributors quoted within the piece criticizing these remarks.
“No man has ever spoken to me like that in my whole life,” Kim mentioned of his telephone name with Cuomo. “In some unspecified time in the future he tried to humiliate me, asking: ‘Are you a lawyer? I did not assume so. You are not a lawyer.’ It virtually felt like on reflection he was making an attempt to bait me and anger me and say one thing inappropriate. I am glad I did not.”
Kim’s spouse informed CNN that she had overheard elements of Kim’s telephone name with Cuomo final week, and described the governor as “loud” and “offended.” She mentioned she heard Cuomo say, “Who do you assume you might be?” in addition to the phrases, “my wrath,” and that instantly after the telephone name, her husband informed her: “The governor threatened to destroy my life.”
Cuomo’s efforts to succeed in Kim appeared to proceed by way of the weekend. Kim mentioned he acquired a number of calls from a “No Caller ID” quantity, adopted by messages from Cuomo aides saying that the governor wish to converse with him once more. Kim mentioned he didn’t return the telephone calls. He has since employed a lawyer, telling CNN that he believed this was needed following Cuomo’s first name which made him really feel that the governor had requested him to lie about what had occurred in final week’s digital name. He mentioned he has knowledgeable the governor’s workplace that any outreach needs to be made by way of his counsel.
When CNN first reached out to Cuomo’s workplace for remark for this story on Tuesday, communications director Peter Ajemian didn’t straight reply to or deny Kim’s allegation of threats from the governor in a written assertion. Late Tuesday, Ajemian mentioned the workplace would ship a clarifying assertion. In the end, the workplace despatched a press release from senior adviser Wealthy Azzopardi late Wednesday morning that mentioned: “Kim’s assertion that the governor mentioned he would ‘destroy him’ is fake.”
“The Governor has three witnesses to the dialog. The operable phrases had been to the impact of, ‘I’m from Queens, too, and other people nonetheless count on honor and integrity in politics,'” Azzopardi mentioned.
Across the identical time that Azzopardi’s assertion was despatched to CNN, Cuomo started a beforehand scheduled press convention name on the coronavirus, and mentioned his workplace’s “lengthy and hostile relationship” with Kim.
Cuomo mentioned Kim’s political animus dates again to a 2015 invoice to reform nail salons that the governor proposed and that Kim initially backed, however later opposed. Cuomo cited a New York Instances report from that 12 months that examined monetary contribution’s that Kim acquired after he flipped his place. In that article, a prime Cuomo aide was vital of Kim.
Kim mentioned on Wednesday that he “100%” stood by his allegation that Cuomo had threatened to destroy him. He mentioned he didn’t recall Cuomo making a selected reference to Queens, however that Cuomo had requested him final week on the telephone, “Mr. Kim, are you an honorable man?” earlier than continuing to counsel that the honorable factor for Kim to do can be to place out a press release of help.
Kim additionally rejected Cuomo’s suggestion that he had ulterior motives for criticizing Cuomo on nursing homes-related Covid deaths, saying he was deeply upset by the governor’s dealing with of the matter in the course of the pandemic.
“There is not any undoing right here. They’ve blood on their fingers,” Kim mentioned. “We’re speaking about his document of efficiency within the final 10 months.”
Azzopardi’s assertion additionally mentioned that Cuomo had referred to as Kim final week to take challenge with Kim’s feedback within the preliminary New York Publish story, prompt that Kim challenge a brand new assertion and that the assemblyman had agreed to take action. When no assertion got here, Azzopardi mentioned, Cuomo’s workplace adopted up and didn’t get a response.
Kim informed CNN that he didn’t conform to challenge a brand new assertion, and that the preliminary New York Publish story didn’t misquote and misread him.
Kim will not be the one lawmaker to have acquired fierce pushback and even threats from Cuomo and his prime aides since final week, in response to three extra Democratic New York lawmakers. All spoke to CNN below the situation of anonymity as a result of they had been afraid of retribution from the governor.
They mentioned the administration had aggressively lobbied legislators to talk up in help of his dealing with of the nursing homes-related deaths, and that threats had been made towards those that are contemplating a vote to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers.
All three legislators mentioned they had been conscious of outreach from the governor through which he clearly prompt or explicitly threatened political retaliation if they didn’t stand by him. One among them, a New York state senator who mentioned they’d not been contacted by Cuomo however heard straight from a number of colleagues whom Cuomo had reached out to, mentioned the governor threatened these colleagues with retaliation — together with warning some that he may smash their political careers in the event that they supported weakening Cuomo’s govt powers.
In different circumstances, the administration was persistent in asking lawmakers to come back to Cuomo’s protection, together with by releasing supportive statements relating to final week’s digital assembly.
A member of the New York meeting mentioned they’d heard from a number of colleagues who acquired messages from the administration suggesting language that legislators may launch after DeRosa’s controversial feedback had been made public. Members had been inspired to say that the digital name had been productive and that legislators had been reassured that their requests for info can be prioritized going ahead, in response to this meeting member who described related messages that a number of colleagues had acquired from members of the administration.
Cuomo has acquired widespread bipartisan criticism on his dealing with of nursing homes-related deaths in the course of the pandemic. His workplace didn’t deny allegations that Cuomo threatened different New York legislators.
In a written assertion to CNN, Ajemian, the Cuomo communications director, didn’t deny that Cuomo made threats to different legislators.
Cuomo is up for reelection subsequent 12 months.
CNN’s Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.