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Jesse McKinley
Luis Ferré-Sadurní

By Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferré-Sadurní

  • Feb. 17, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Democratic leaders of the New York State Senate are moving to strip Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of unilateral emergency powers granted during the pandemic, setting up a remarkable rebuke for the governor from members of his own party.

The Senate’s measures, which could be voted on as soon as next week, underscore the deepening division between Mr. Cuomo and state lawmakers since the governor admitted to intentionally withholding critical data on virus-related deaths from the Legislature.

The moves came even as it emerged that the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York had opened an inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic. It was not known whether the inquiry, which was confirmed by three people familiar with the matter, was focused on Mr. Cuomo or any individual, only that it was in its earliest stages.

The inquiry was another clear indication of how the climate has shifted dramatically for Mr. Cuomo since March, when he emerged as a prominent voice in the health crisis, using his daily briefings and invocations of his family to inform and calm a nation of viewers who turned to him as the virus began to spread. Now, much of that good will has evaporated.

The Senate’s action also illustrates a deepening fatigue in the Democratic-controlled State Legislature over Mr. Cuomo’s broad use of powers, which have enabled him to control nearly every facet of the state’s response to the virus, from ordering widespread shutdowns to managing the distribution of vaccines to feuding with state health officials.

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Cuomo takes aim at Assemblyman Ron Kim over nursing home criticism, links to past political fights

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo lashed out at one of his most outspoken critics in a lengthy rant Wednesday, accusing Assemblyman Ron Kim of being in the pocket of nail salon owners.

The governor said he has had a “long and hostile relationship” with Kim and chalked up the lawmaker’s recent criticism of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home COVID-19 deaths and related data to a years-old political grudge.

Cuomo, under growing pressure from critics on both sides of the aisle over the nursing home controversy, outright accused his fellow Democrat from Queens of participating in a “pay-to-play” scheme related to a 2015 law offering protections to nail salon workers.

The governor accused Kim of flipping “180 degrees” after initially supporting the bill six years ago because “business people in his community got upset.”

“He actually used his lobbying firm to lobby on behalf of the business owners then raised money from those business owners and continues to do so,” Cuomo seethed.

In a statement, Kim said the governor can “smear me all he wants in an effort to distract us from his fatally incompetent management.”\

The lawmaker also told CNN the governor threatened to “destroy” him during a phone call last week.

“Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career … He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim told the network. “(H)e said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”

Kim said he then ignored several calls from the governor over the weekend and told Cuomo’s team that any further communications must go through his attorney.

Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi said Kim is lying about the conversation.

“At no time did anyone threaten to ‘destroy’ anyone with their ‘wrath’ nor engage in a ‘coverup,’” he said. “That’s beyond the pale and is, unfortunately, part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.”

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