The New York Post has called for a federal investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration after one of his top aides allegedly told state lawmakers in a conference call that the Cuomo administration withheld nursing home fatality data.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide confessed privately this week that the administration suppressed the true COVID toll in the homes,” wrote the New York Post’s editorial board. “She also offered an apology — not to the thousands of New York families who needlessly lost loved ones thanks to her boss’s mismanagement but to Democratic lawmakers put in a difficult ‘political position with the Republicans’ by the coverup.”
“A federal investigation may be the only way to get the full truth of Team Cuomo’s order to nursing homes, populated by those most vulnerable to the virus, to take in COVID-positive patients. Not just the ‘what’ of how many lives it cost, but the ‘why’ behind this madness, and the months and months of coverup,” reads the editorial.
As the New York Post first reported, Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s chief of staff, allegedly told Democratic lawmakers in a private call that fear of a potential DOJ investigation by the Trump administration played a “very large role” in why the Cuomo administration withheld data.
According to New York Magazine, DeRosa said on the call:
I don’t know that this is going to satisfy you, but it’s the truth and the truth works almost every time. The letter comes in at the end of August and right around the same time, President Trump turns this into a giant political football. He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes, he starts going after [other Democratic governors over their responses to the pandemic.] He directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us. He finds one person at DOJ who since has been fired because this person is now known to be a political hack who sends letters out to all of these different governors. Basically, we froze because then 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 and what we start saying was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation. That played a very large role into this.
More than 9,000 patients recovering from COVID-19 were sent back to nursing homes under the Cuomo administration’s directive, according to The Associated Press, which noted that this figure is 40% higher than the state’s previously reported figures. Furthermore, 15,000 people from nursing homes in New York died, a figure that the state previously suggested was closer to 8,500.
The New York Post editorial board suggested that a special counsel may be needed in the investigation, particularly because of Cuomo’s ties to the White House, where he was on Friday afternoon. The editorial board concluded: “New York needs to get to the bottom of Cuomo & Co.’s pack of lies. The public needs the full truth — and accountability.”
More than a dozen Democratic state senators called Friday for the repeal of Cuomo’s emergency powers, including his capacity to enact directives on a unilateral basis.
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government,” they wrote. “While COVID-19 has tested the limits of our people and state – and, early during the pandemic, required the government to restructure decision making to render rapid, necessary public health judgments – it is clear that the expanded emergency powers granted to the Governor are no longer appropriate. While the executive’s authority to issue directives is due to expire on April 30, we urge the Senate to advance and adopt a repeal as expeditiously as possible.”
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