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ALBANY, New York, February 15, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the numbers of COVID-related deaths in the state’s nursing homes in order to avoid a legal investigation and negative political attention.

“We froze,” said Melissa DeRosa, in a striking admission during a video conference with state Democrat leaders late last week, the New York Post reported.

Having rejected demands for accurate numbers from the state’s legislators last fall, the secretary to the governor pleaded that they feared former President Donald Trump would turn “this into a giant political football … He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes … He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

DeRosa also explained the Cuomo administration feared that President Trump would direct “the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”

“And basically, we froze,” she admitted to the lawmakers on the call.

Her statements also indicate pro-abortion Cuomo and his aides intentionally concealed the data fearing it may be used as evidence by the DOJ: “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.”

Instead of seeking the forgiveness of the families of thousands of seniors who died prematurely, or to the critics of the administration’s March 25 Health Department directive requiring nursing homes to admit infected patients, DeRosa sought reconciliation with her fellow Democrats for the political embarrassment it caused them.

“So we do apologize,” she said. “I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair. It was not our intention to put you in that political position with the Republicans.”

“It’s not enough how contrite they are with us,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens). “They need to show that to the public and the families — and they haven’t done that.”

In addition to rebuffing the demands for these death tallies by fellow Democrat legislators in the state, Cuomo and his administration refused requests from the media and even fought a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the Empire Center on Public Policy.

Instead of releasing all of the relevant data, the New York Health Department only provided the numbers of residents who died in their nursing homes. But late last month, Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, released a report revealing that death numbers rise by around 50% when nursing home fatalities of residents who were infected with COVID-19 and then died in a hospital are included.

Following this disclosure, New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker released figures showing that when including this latter category, the numbers rise from 8,711 deaths to 12,743. Adding in those killed by COVID-19 in assisted living/adult care facilities, the totals came to 15,049.

For months, New York was the hardest hit of any state by the pandemic, due in large part to the coronavirus spreading within the state’s nursing homes. In March, Cuomo ordered that nursing homes cannot turn away patients diagnosed with COVID-19, despite the fact the virus is most dangerous to the elderly.

Cuomo initially tried to blame nursing home fatalities on the Trump administration by claiming that a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance forced him to put the infected back in nursing homes. But Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) explained that the CDC actually called for elderly housing decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the “ability of the accepting facility to meet the recommended infection control practices,” such as the “ability to place residents in a designated COVID-19 care unit that is equipped with the resources and (personal protective equipment) to safely prevent the spread of infections.”

Cuomo’s placement of individuals known to be infectious among the state’s most vulnerable contrasts sharply with the extreme measures New York leaders have taken to prevent spreading the virus in less risky situations, such as restricting in-person religious services

Despite his overall handling of the pandemic, Cuomo had enjoyed a media narrative presenting him as a model leader, which the governor used to release a book on Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic. Though he omitted any mention of the numbers of COVID-19 nursing home deaths in his book, Cuomo did tout his self-professed “clear communication, compassion for others, and a commitment to truth-telling.”

In the meantime, New York Republican Congressional Representative Claudia Tenney has called for Cuomo’s resignation, and Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has demanded the Department of Justice open an obstruction investigation into Cuomo and his administration.

“DOJ needs to immediately open an Obstruction of Justice investigation into Gov Cuomo & his admin,” Zeldin tweeted. “It’s now being reported there has been a direct admission of their nursing home coverup. The families of thousands of dead NY seniors deserve accountability.”