CNN 'bans Chris Cuomo from interviewing brother' as gov 'threatened to destroy' fellow Dem lawmaker over Covid scandal

CNN has allegedly banned Chris Cuomo from interviewing his brother – the under-fire New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The order comes as the popular political figure is alleged to have "threatened to destroy" a fellow Democratic lawmaker over the nursing home Covid scandal.

CNN reported on February 17 that Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told the broadcaster about a nasty call on his cell phone from the governor last week.

Kim recalled: "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."

Cuomo allegedly also told the stunned assemblyman, "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," added Kim.

The New York Post reports that, on Wednesday, the governor said he and Assemblyman Kim (D-Queens) have an “open and hostile relationship” that dates back to legislation enacted in 2015 to regulate nail salons.

Cuomo alleged that while Kim had supported the measure, he later “flipped 180 degrees” because “businesspeople in his community got upset.”

“He actually used his lobbying firm to lobby on behalf of the business owners … then raised money from those business owners and continues to do so,” Cuomo also alleged.

Speaking about their differences over the six-year measure, he added: “I believe it’s unethical, if not illegal. And I believe it’s a continuing racket because he’s still doing it.”

The political leader's adviser denied that the governor threatened to destroy Kim, said CNN.

The alleged threat to Kim's career follows public outrage over the administration's lack of transparency during the coronavirus pandemic.

In audio from a leaked February 10 call between the governor's aide, Melissa DeRosa, and lawmakers, she reportedly said "basically, we froze" when asked for nursing home death data by the Department of Justice.

In recent weeks, the state has been forced to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000.

Yet it had previously reported 8,500 fatalities – a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals.

And the governor's brother, Chris Cuomo, has been slammed for failing to lift the lid on the health scandal.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that he had not mentioned his sibling when talking about the pandemic or the furore on his Monday show.

His sudden silence came despite his brother admitting for the first time on Monday that his government had been slow to offer data.

Gov Cuomo stopped short of apologizing and denied accusations of a cover-up, but the affair is causing pressure from fellow lawmakers and denting his popularity.

The Democratically controlled state legislature is threatening to withdraw expanded executive powers granted to Cuomo when the pandemic first attacked New York in March.

CNN told the Post that bosses had in 2020 let the host break its rules on interviewing family members, due to the "extraordinary" events.

It added: "We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest.

"As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today."

CNN also told the Post that its hosts have "covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively".

But news agency AFP reports that his star is fading as pandemic pressure builds.

A survey released by the Siena College Research Institute Tuesday found that 51 per cent of New Yorkers approve of Cuomo's performance, down from 56 per cent last month.

"The star has fallen quite a bit," said Jacob Neiheisel, a professor of political science at the University of Buffalo.

Sam Abrams, a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College, told AFP that even though Cuomo – a New York political figure for 40 years – was considered "a bully and arrogant," he was "a statesman, a thoughtful and bold leader" compared to Donald Trump.

Some experts have linked his current popularity decline to Trump's exit from the White House.

"I don't know anyone, even in New York or Washington, who watches his briefings anymore," said Columbia University politics expert Lincoln Mitchell.

At the height of Cuomo mania last year, some Democrats suggested he should replace Biden on the presidential ticket.

Others even talked about him being a future attorney general.

But now commentators are wondering whether Cuomo's current troubles will encourage unimpressed Democratic left-wingers to challenge him in the primaries if he runs for a fourth term in 2022.

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