The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, New York, have reportedly launched a preliminary investigation into how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his coronavirus task force handled nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Albany Times Union first reported news of the investigation Wednesday. The paper said the probe is in its early stages and is scrutinizing the work of some of the task force’s senior members.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesperson for the governor, told NBC News that Cuomo’s administration has been cooperating with federal investigators at the Department of Justice.
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to,” Azzopardi said.
Cuomo has received an outpouring of criticism over allegations that he covered up the true number of coronavirus-related deaths at nursing homes across the state.
Earlier on Wednesday, a New York lawmaker said that Cuomo had threatened his career over the scandal.
Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told CNN that the governor called him last week and said he “hadn’t seen his wrath and he can destroy me.”
“Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said,” Kim told CNN.
Last week, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa acknowledged in a private virtual call with lawmakers that the governor’s administration had withheld data on the deaths from state lawmakers for months because state officials “froze” over worries that the information was “going to be used against us” by then-President Donald Trump.
Kim, who represents Queens, told CNN that Cuomo tried pressuring him into releasing a statement in support of the governor.
“He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience,” Kim said. He added that Cuomo told him “‘we’re in this business together and we don’t cross certain lines,’ and he said I hadn’t seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”
Kim’s wife also told CNN she overheard portions of the call, including Cuomo using the words “my wrath.”
An adviser for Cuomo denied Kim’s description of the call.
“No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life,” Kim told CNN. “At some point he tried to humiliate me, asking: ‘Are you a lawyer? I didn’t think so. You’re not a lawyer.’ It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I’m glad I didn’t.”
Kim said he has hired a lawyer out of caution.
Last week, a reporter had asked Cuomo if state Attorney General Letitia James should investigate the allegations against the governor and his team.
“There’s nothing to investigate there,” Cuomo responded.
This story has been updated with news of the FBI investigation.