NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 06: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pauses after delivering his State of the State and budget proposals at The City College of New York on February 6, 2013 in New York City. Among issues addressed were the cost of the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, policing, economic development and education. His $142.6 million executive budget would increase state spending by 2 percent and raise school aid by 4.4 percent, to $21 billion. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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Morning Wire: Cuomo’s ‘Right Hand Woman’ Resigns, The Biden Administration Gets Sued, And The Rise Of ‘Fake Vaccine Cards’

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It’s Tuesday, August 10th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast here.

1) Cuomo’s “Right Hand Woman” Resigns

The Topline: As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) sexual harassment scandal continues to gain steam, several high profile members of his inner circle have announced their resignation. 

Quote Of The Day: “What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law.” — Brittany Commisso, Executive Assistant #1

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed at least eleven women. President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (D) have since called on him to resign. 

While Cuomo has said he refuses to resign, Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s “right-hand woman,” announced her resignation on Sunday night.

DeRosa joined the Cuomo administration in 2013 as communications director, and rose to become what the New York Times described as “the most powerful appointed official in the state.”

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Why Is She Resigning?

DeRosa herself was implicated in the attorney general’s report. Some reports say she’s mentioned as often as Cuomo, and fostered a toxic work environment.

Attorney General James included an example of DeRosa requesting the “full file” of Lindsay Boylan, a woman who publicly accused Cuomo of being “one of the biggest abusers of all time.” DeRosa also allegedly played a part in releasing confidential files about Boylan to the media in an attempt to damage her credibility, and also helped draft an unpublished op-ed about Boylan, an act James described as “unlawful retaliation.”

DeRosa’s Involvement With Cuomo’s Nursing Home Scandal 

During a private call in February with state Democrats — which was uncovered by the New York Post — DeRosa said the Cuomo administration intentionally withheld the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths from the legislature, because they were afraid of the political backlash.

One assemblymember who was on the call spoke up about the nursing home deaths, and later claimed Cuomo threatened his career if he didn’t cover for DeRosa and Cuomo.

More Fallout

Roberta Kaplan, co-founder of the Time’s Up legal defense fund, resigned from the MeToo organization after it was disclosed in the attorney general’s report that she consulted with Cuomo’s team on an op-ed smearing one of the governor’s accusers.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

2) The Biden Administration Gets Sued

The Topline: A group of organizations, including the ACLU, is revamping its lawsuit against the Biden administration over the use of Title 42 with regard to deporting migrants. 

Quote Of The Day: “We gave the Biden administration more than enough time to fix any problems left behind by the Trump administration, but it has left us no choice but to return to court. Families’ lives are at stake.” — ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt

What Is Title 42?  

Title 42 is part of the U.S. Code that has to do with public health and welfare. It allows the government to to take emergency steps to stop the introduction of communicable diseases into the U.S., such as COVID. The measure was reportedly used by the Trump administration to expel migrants who were coming into the United States.

Organizations like the ACLU sued the Trump administration on similar grounds and are still seeking an immediate halt to the policy, which they say restricts immigration at the border “based on an unprecedented and unlawful invocation of the Public Health Service Act.”

Biden’s Response

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki punted responsibility for the decision to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

Later in the day, the CDC issued a statement explaining they had extended the measure suspending noncitizens from coming into the U.S. through Canada or Mexico. 

Border Officials Speak Out 

In May, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Tae Johnson told lawmakers that Title 42 was critical to their operations.

This all comes as COVID continues to be a concern at the border, especially for those who work to secure it. Border Patrol Union president Brandon Judd said they have agents coming down with the virus. He also said the Biden administration isn’t being forthright about the migrants who are released into the U.S. under the catch-and-release program. 

He added that “well over 20%” of unaccompanied children are testing positive for COVID. 

Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

3) The Rise Of ‘Fake Vaccine Cards’

The Topline: A growing number of governments and businesses around the world are requiring proof of vaccination for those wanting to work, travel, or dine in a restaurant. Many Americans are reportedly sidestepping those mandates by buying or forging fake vaccination cards.

Quote Of The Day: “At some point, you know what, we got to say, you can’t work for the federal government if you don’t have the vaccine. You can’t teach school if you don’t have a vaccine. You can’t work in hospitals if you don’t have a vaccine. You can’t work with our parents and grandparents at long-care term facilities if you don’t have a vaccine. This is common sense.”  MSNBC Host Joe Scarborough.

How Widespread Are These?

The Justice Department says it doesn’t have any “definitive numbers” on how widespread the practice is, but authorities have reported that websites like Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy have carried ads for imitation vaccination cards.

People are paying anywhere from $13 for a pack of 10 cards to $200 each. Overseas, European Union citizens are paying about €100 for a copy of the European smart cards.

The FBI Gets Involved

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced in March that forging the logo of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which appears on each card, constitutes the illegal “misuse of a government seal.” Each offense is punishable by a $5,000 fine and five years in prison. 

In July, federal agents arrested a homeopathic doctor in California for selling pills which she claimed were a natural cure for COVID-19. She sent all of her customers a fake vaccination card stating that they’d received the Moderna vaccine.

Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg Bloomberg / Contributor via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Biden Snubs Tesla: 

President Biden signed an executive order last week calling for zero-emissions vehicles to represent half of all new vehicles sold in 2030. The president held a summit at the White House which notably excluded Tesla. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki heavily implied that Tesla was not included due to its lack of unionization, saying that the companies invited were “the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers.”

Democrats’ Budget Proposal:

Democrats have announced how much their budget proposal will cost, putting the price at $3.5 trillion. Among other items, the package is expected to include various climate policies — including “polluter import fees” — that would act as a tariff based on emissions. Democrats plan to get the package through with only 51 votes by using the budget reconciliation process, as no Republican Senators are expected to vote for it.

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