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Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told Democratic lawmakers that the administration rebuffed their request for data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes because they feared it would "be used against us" by federal investigators egged on by then-President Trump, according to a leaked tape obtained by the New York Post.

Why it matters: Cuomo has been under fire for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes early in the pandemic. He's now facing new allegations of his administration actively withholding data on coronavirus deaths in nursing homes in order to delay potential investigations.

  • New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, released a report two weeks ago accusing the Cuomo administration of undercounting coronavirus deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
  • Cuomo dismissed the report, arguing it doesn't matter where the patients died: “Who cares [if they] died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”

Driving the news: “[Trump] starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa reportedly told lawmakers on the call, noting that the president directed the Justice Department to investigate. “And basically, we froze."

  • "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.”
  • DeRosa later attempted to clarify her remarks by arguing that the Cuomo administration wasn't hiding information altogether, but rather had multiple requests for the same data and was attempting to send them in proper order, the New York Times reports.

What they're saying: Cuomo is facing calls for accountability from both Republicans and Democrats in New York.

  • New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R) tweeted: "Governor Cuomo and his administration must be investigated from top to bottom and he must be stripped of his emergency powers."
  • New York State Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D) tweeted: "This is a betrayal of the public trust. There needs to be full accountability for what happened, and the legislature needs to reconsider its broad grant of emergency powers to the governor."
  • New York State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D) tweeted: "You’re only sorry that you all got caught. Because of your decisions, thousands of people died who did not have to die. We’re not “offended”, Melissa, we’re furious - with extremely good reason."

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers — U.S. on the lookout for Omicron casesFDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns" — Two federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Pentagon denies Oklahoma National Guard request for exemption from vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron — COVID-19 "radically altered mobility" globally, UN says.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Feb 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden blasts Trump's COVID vaccination efforts: "Did not do his job"

President Biden. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday slammed his predecessor for "not doing his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans."

Driving the news: Biden's remarks at the National Institutes of Health came not long after his administration signed final contracts with Pfizer and Moderna to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines.

Feb 11, 2021 - Health

Biden administration purchases 200 million additional vaccine doses

President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House on Feb. 11. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The federal government purchased an additional 200 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, President Biden announced Thursday during a tour of the National Institutes of Health.

The big picture: Biden said the U.S. is on track to have enough supply of the vaccine to inoculate 300 million Americans by the end of July. That comes out to roughly 600 million doses, boosting "supply in the United States by 50 percent," as first reported by the Washington Post.