Washington — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lambasted embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo as he faces calls to resign amid accusations of sexual misconduct, saying the Democratic governor is "literally in the way of us saving lives" by remaining in office.
"He should resign right now because he's holding up our effort to fight COVID," de Blasio, a Democrat and Cuomo's longtime political rival, said in an interview with "Face the Nation." "He's literally in the way of us saving lives right now."
While initially praised for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in New York, Cuomo is now battling claims his administration covered up the scale of deaths in nursing homes in the state and enacted a policy that exacerbated the spread of COVID-19 among residents of group homes and long-term care facilities. The governor is also facing a series of allegations of sexual misconduct.
De Blasio last week called for Cuomo to resign, and the chorus of calls for the governor to step down has continued to grow louder. A majority of House Democrats from New York's congressional designation believe Cuomo should leave his post, and New York's two senators, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, on Friday said he should resign.
But Cuomo has rejected those calls and denied the multitude of allegations against him.
"I'm not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people," he said Friday. "People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth."
De Blasio said he doesn't believe Cuomo will resign unless he is impeached by the state legislature.
"I think he's used to getting things his way and it's been almost an imperial governorship," he said. "The folks in this state and the political leadership don't believe in him anymore. He doesn't have any credibility. I think an impeachment proceeding will begin, and I think he will be impeached and perhaps right before that he'll decide to resign. That's probably the most likely outcome right now."
De Blasio also said he believes Cuomo tried to hide the number of nursing-home deaths to protect himself and his donors.
"Everything was about his public image. Everything was about his political future. It was not about what people needed," the mayor said. "And by the way, it was about campaign contributions. The nursing home industry, the big hospital systems, they gave him millions and millions of dollars and he went easy on them. And he tried to cover up for everyone. Not just him, but his donors."
The investigations into Cuomo's handling of nursing home patients who became infected with COVID-19 will show he acted in the benefit of his political supporters, de Blasio added.
"This was a thoroughly corrupt situation and he just needs to resign so we can actually turn the page," he said. "And look, it's an optimistic time, as you started out this morning. It's an optimistic time. We got to put the past behind us."
New York detected its first case of the coronavirus on March 1, 2020, and has hit the one-year anniversary of its first death from the virus. But de Blasio did not shut down bars, restaurants, schools and gyms until two weeks after its first case. Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden told the New York Times that had city and state officials enacted mitigation measures a week or two earlier, the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak might have been reduced by 50% to 80%.
The mayor, however, blamed Cuomo for resisting his request for a shelter-in-place order, and said requiring New York City residents to remain at home would have been "powerful."
"When I called for it, Governor Cuomo wouldn't do it. Again, he said it would be, quote unquote, 'imprisoning New Yorkers,'" de Blasio said. "I mean, that's just outrageous. We had an opportunity. That was the missed opportunity. If I had had local control, we would have done shelter-in-place."
De Blasio also blamed state leaders for not giving enough vaccine doses to New York City, particularly as a new coronavirus strain has been found circulating the state, one which has shown resistance to antibody treatments and the vaccine.
"The answer is just to maximize the pace of vaccination," he said of how best to protect against the new variant. "In New York City today, we could be doing over half a million vaccinations a week if we had more supply. I think the key thing is to get us that supply."
While de Blasio praised the efforts of the Biden administration for accelerating the pace of vaccinations, he said "part of our problem is the state of New York."
"We don't get our fair share of vaccine for this city," he said. "We're vaccinating people not just from the city, but also from the suburbs, surrounding states. We need our fair share, but we don't have enough control of our own destiny."