New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday called for a "full accounting" of the circumstances behind an alleged coverup by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration of the number of New Yorkers who died in nursing homes in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's very troubling. We've got to know more. We now need a full accounting of what happened," he said on "The Brian Lehrer Show."
"Think about seniors, who their [sic] lives were in the balance and their families, you know, just desperate to get them the help they needed," he said. "We need to know exactly what happened here. We need to make sure nothing like this ever happens again."
The New York Post first reported that Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa told state Democrats that the administration "froze" as the Justice Department began looking at its handling of nursing homes.
"Because then 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," she said.
DeRosa’s statement came after New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office found that Cuomo’s office undercounted deaths by as much as 50 percent. Cuomo had been criticized for a March 25 order that required nursing homes to admit infected patients.
De Blasio, who has frequently clashed with Cuomo, called the Post’s revelations a "really disturbing report."
DeRosa attempted to walk back her claims on Friday, insisting in a statement that "we were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ."
"I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first," she said.
"We informed the houses of this at the time," she continued. "We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ, and then had to immediately focus our resources on the second wave and vaccine rollout.
But that statement is unlikely to take the heat off Cuomo. De Blasio’s isn’t the only New York Democratic voice calling for action on the revelations. More than a dozen Democratic New York state senators are calling for Cuomo to be stripped of his emergency powers.
"Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government. While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state-- and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgements-- it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate," a joint statement by the state Senators said.
Meanwhile, among Republicans, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., has called for a federal obstruction of justice investigation into the New York nursing home situation.
Other New York Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, demanded that Cuomo and his "senior team" be "prosecuted immediately" at the state and federal levels, regarding the nursing home deaths.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.