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Lawmakers call for Gov. Cuomo’s removal following aide’s reported nursing home data confession

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New York lawmakers are calling for gov. Andrew Cuomo’s impeachment after new information was released Thursday night on how his administration concealed Covid-19 death tolls.

Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers in a virtual meeting on Wednesday for withholding the state’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19. She told lawmakers that the administration “froze” out of fear that the data would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors under the Trump administration, The New York Post reported Thursday.

According to audio footage The Post obtained of the meeting, DeRosa admitted the Cuomo administration had declined requests for a full count of nursing home deaths in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football.”

“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”

In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”

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

“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 then attempted to make amends with the fellow democrat lawmakers for putting them in this situation.

“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.”

According to the latest reports, nearly 15,000 New Yorkers who were in long-term care facilities died from Covid-19. The death toll number increased from about 9,000 to almost 15,000—making clear that the pandemic’s toll on long-term care residents was much worse than the Cuomo administration previously portrayed it to be.

State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt will hold a press conference Friday morning to push for further investigation into the situation.

“If the Governor is involved, he should be immediately removed from office,” Ortt said.

State GOP Chair Nick Langworthy is calling for Cuomo’s immediate impeachment.

“The second most powerful person in state government and top aide to Gov. Cuomo admitted on video to the premeditated and willful violation of state laws and what clearly amounts to federal obstruction of justice,” Langworthy said. “Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor. Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away.”

Sen. Rand Paul tweeted Friday morning that “If Democrats were honest about using impeachment to remove corrupt officials, they need look no further than Cuomo.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Biden frees Venezuelan President Maduro’s drug dealing relatives in prisoner swap

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President Biden freed two of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s relatives Saturday in exchange for seven jailed Americans. The two nephews of Maduro’s wife Cilia Flores, had been convicted in the United States for drug dealing and sentenced to 18 years in prison, according to the BBC.

According to the report, the swap was in exchange for five American oil executives. Those Americans were “exchanged for two of Mr Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who were serving 18-year sentences in the US on drug charges,” the officials told the BBC. Maduro’s nephews were convicted under the Trump administration and the Venezuelan government claims that they were “unjustly” jailed in the United States.

In a statement from the White House Saturday, Biden said the American’s were  “wrongfully detained.”  He said the American’s  would soon be reunited with their relatives, according to reports.

“Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” the Biden statement added.

Meanwhile, 13 Republican members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requesting more information on “the intelligence report” that alleges Maduro is emptying his prisons and allowing them to head to the United States in the caravans that crossing the porous border.

The letter states that the report warns Border Patrol agents to be on the look-out for “violent criminals from Venezuela among the migrant caravans heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“It has been widely reported that the Venezuelan regime, under the control of Nicolás Maduro Moros, is deliberately releasing violent prisoners early, including inmates convicted of ‘murder, rape, and extortion,’ and pushing them to join caravans heading to the United States,” the letter states.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC.

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