Published February 13, 2021
New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler is demanding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo release the full tape of his administration's conversation with Democratic lawmakers after a portion of the meeting revealed his top aide admitted to withholding data from Justice Department investigators probing nursing home deaths related to COVID-19.
"Since @NYGovCuomo’s office was able to release a partial transcript, it means they have a full transcript & it also means they have the tape. #releasethetape," Lawler, a Republican, said in a post on Twitter.
On Friday, Cuomo's office released a partial transcript of the call, where Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, said Cuomo's administration feared the data about COVID-19 deaths could "be used against us" by the Justice Department in the midst of its federal probe, placing blame, in part, on former President Donald Trump who repeatedly attacked Cuomo's pandemic response.
"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," DeRosa told the lawmakers, according to the transcript of the call released Friday by Cuomo's office and reviewed by Fox News.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cuomo has not responded to multiple calls and emails from Fox News.
"There needs to be an immediate criminal investigation into the Cuomo administration’s cover-up of nursing homes deaths," Lawler told Fox News in a statement. "Any and all recordings available of the meeting between Andrew Cuomo’s senior staff and legislative Democrats should be turned over immediately, and Attorney General Tish James must exhibit her independence from the Cuomo administration and push for an independent prosecutor not under the purview of the Executive Branch."
James, a Democrat, previously released the findings of a state AG investigation at the end of January that revealed Cuomo's health department had underreported nursing home deaths by more than 50%.
Cuomo's Health Department said at that time the death toll from nursing homes was below 6,000 but on Wednesday clarified that it had topped 15,000.
Lawler urged state Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie -- both Democrats -- to introduce legislation to strip Cuomo "of his extraordinary emergency powers," a push that has garnered the support of at least 14 Democrats, as well.
"This is something that should have been done months ago," Lawler said.
"It is no longer in question whether or not Cuomo and his administration covered up the true toll of his March 25th order to send COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes," he added. "Now the only question that remains is will Cuomo and his staff be held accountable for engaging in this criminal, conspiratorial act?"