It’s Wednesday, January 5th and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:
1) No Charges For Andrew Cuomo
The Topline: Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) will face no charges for sexual harassment or for misleading the public about the number of COVID-19 deaths tied to nursing homes in his state.
Quote Of The Day: “[Andrew Cuomo] violated U.S. Code. As everyone knows, the facts are not disputed, that he altered and changed data, which is a violation of U.S. Code … The U.S. attorney should certainly be looking into this.”
– Representative Cynthia Tenney (R-NY)
One of the former governor’s attorneys, Elkan Abramowitz, made the announcement Monday that the charges were dropped, but the district attorney’s office didn’t make a public statement.
Cuomo’s Department of Health issued an order on March 25, 2020. The advisory read,“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
At the time, NPR described New York state as “the epicenter” of the COVID-19 outbreak, with 5% of all reported cases worldwide. Nursing homes began placing COVID-positive patients alongside senior citizens, who are the most susceptible population to the virus.
Cuomo’s office reported 6,600 nursing home deaths that August, but one of his aides, Melissa DeRosa, admitted on video that the office intentionally undercounted because they were afraid of prosecution from the Trump administration.
State Attorney General Letitia James said the state underreported COVID-19 deaths by about half. The actual number of seniors who died in nursing homes from the virus was 15,000, according to The New York Times. A Democratic state assembly member named Ronald Kim said the governor threatened to destroy him if he went public about the scandal, but Kim still broke the news.
In August 2020, the Justice Department opened an investigation into New York and three other states where Democratic governors had issued similar nursing home orders: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. However, the Biden administration’s Justice Department announced it had dropped the probe into Governors Cuomo, Phil Murphy, Tom Wolf, and Gretchen Whitmer last July.
If another office wants to open an investigation, Cuomo could face additional charges for his handling of the nursing home order. Cuomo’s defenders have said bad judgment isn’t illegal. The order was a political decision, so it requires a political punishment, such as impeachment, but the state assembly didn’t take action before Cuomo resigned last August.
More Cuomo: On December 23rd, a prosecutor in Long Island declined to press charges against Cuomo for fondling the breast of an aide named Brittany Commisso. On December 28th, the Westchester County DA decided not to charge Cuomo with harassing two women, including forcibly kissing one of them. On Tuesday, Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced he wasn’t going to press charges against the governor for allegedly touching a state trooper in a suggestive way, even though they found her allegations to be “credible.”
2) Prenatal Genetic Testing Regularly Produces False Positives
The Topline: A stunning new report from The New York Times found that certain types of prenatal tests used to identify rare genetic disorders are inaccurate up to 85% of the time.
The tests use a relatively new technology utilizing a small sample of maternal blood to screen for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, such as Down syndrome.
In the case of Down syndrome, the tests are fairly accurate, but the tests also claim to identify other, rarer genetic disorders resulting from gene microdeletions, which are caused by a tiny missing portion of a chromosome.
The report looked at five specific popular microdeletion tests.
They found that the test for DiGeorge syndrome, which is associated with heart defects, is inaccurate 81% of the time when the result is positive. The four other tests also had drastically inflated positive rates. One was 80% inaccurate, another was 84%, 86%, and one had a 93% chance that a positive result was incorrect.
These kinds of tests are not regulated by the FDA, which some say would impact at least how the tests are advertised to prospective parents, since many of the companies claim their results are “highly accurate” and provide “peace of mind.”
The New York Times looked at 17 patient and doctor brochures, and 10 of those never mention that a false positive can occur.
Effect On Abortion
The percentage of babies with Down syndrome who are aborted isn’t clear but the number of babies born with the condition has gone down dramatically around the world, likely due to abortion.
A study from late 2020 showed that babies born every year with Down’s dropped by an average of 54% in Europe due to the rise in prenatal testing.
A study from 2016 from the same group discovered that in the United States, 33% fewer babies with Down syndrome were born each year.
The other tests for genetic disorders also lead to women getting abortions, and many women make their decision based on these tests alone. A study from 2014 showed that 6% of women who received a positive test result got an abortion without getting an additional test to be sure it was right.
3) Prince Andrew Faces New Allegations
The Topline: The Ghislaine Maxwell trial is over, but some high-profile members in Jeffrey Epstein’s circle are back in the spotlight, including Britain’s Prince Andrew.
Quote Of The Day: “…I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time…”
– Prince Andrew
Based on various reports, Prince Andrew’s legal team went into emergency talks after Maxwell’s conviction. His involvement relates to allegations that he sexually abused Virginia Giuffre, who was previously known as Virginia Roberts, when she was 17 years old. Giuffre sued Prince Andrew earlier this year in a civil case in New York.
Prince Andrew’s lawyers moved to leverage a previously secret settlement between Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein.
The $500,000 agreement was made in 2009 and kept secret until this week. Prince Andrew’s legal team were hoping it would release him from liability, but when it was released, it became clear it made no mention of the British royal by name.
Now, his legal team is going to rely on the vague wording in the agreement which refers to “other potential defendants.”
Prince Andrew claims he never met Giuffre, despite apparently being photographed with the then 17-year old Giuffre, along with Ghislaine Maxwell.
Other Stories We’re Tracking
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty on four charges of fraud. The founder of the blood-testing startup was found guilty of conspiring to defraud investors as well as wire fraud. She now faces up to 20 years in prison as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
A new CNBC poll found that President Biden’s disapproval rating has reached a new high, with 56% disapproving of his handling of the presidency. The network found even more voters, 60%, are unhappy with his handling of the economy, while 55% disapprove of his approach to the pandemic.
Hundreds of drivers were stranded in their vehicles on I-95 in Virginia Tuesday following a severe snowstorm and a serious crash involving tractor trailers Monday. Some drivers reported being trapped in their cars for more than 20 hours.
Police in Germany have cracked down on protesters of pandemic restrictions, citing “sporadic violence” at some demonstrations. Officials say tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in multiple cities despite the government’s restrictions on public gatherings. People accused of violating social distancing rules face criminal charges and fines.