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NY state legislator claims Cuomo threatened him: 'He can destroy me'

NY state legislator claims Cuomo threatened him: 'He can destroy me'
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New York Assemblyman Ron Kim (D) told CNN on Wednesday that Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCNN insults #MeToo movement, provides happy ending for Jeffrey Toobin New York lawmakers pass bill allowing gender-neutral 'X' on state ID Republican NY state senator: Single-payer health care bill won't get a vote this week MORE (D-N.Y.) had threatened him over the phone after he criticized the governor over a pause in the release of data on coronavirus deaths in state nursing homes.

"Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience," Kim told CNN.

“We're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines," Kim said the governor told him. He also said Cuomo told him that he "hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me.”

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Top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa told state lawmakers during a virtual meeting that the Cuomo administration “froze” releasing information on long-term care facility deaths out of concern that the Department of Justice (DOJ) under former President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE would launch a federal investigation.

She later released a statement that New York's government had been transparent.

“I was explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature's request to deal with the federal request first," she said in the statement. "We informed the houses of this at the time. We were comprehensive and transparent in our responses to the DOJ."

"No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life," Kim said of the phone call with Cuomo.

"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," he added.

A Cuomo adviser told CNN that Kim's account was not accurate.

"Kim's assertion that the governor said he would 'destroy him' is false," Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, told CNN. "The Governor has three witnesses to the conversation. The operable words were to the effect of, 'I am from Queens, too, and people still expect honor and integrity in politics.'"

Kim's claims come one day after New York State Sen. Rachel May (D) called on Cuomo to issue an apology for his actions, saying she did not believe his statements so far have amounted to a "a full and sincere apology."