U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into New York Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo for allegedly committing obstruction of justice by intentionally hiding the number of coronavirus deaths that occurred in the state’s nursing homes.
The letter was sent to the DOJ by the New York Republican Congressional delegation, including Reps. Lee Zeldin, Elise M. Stefanik, Chris Jacobs, Nicole Malliotakis, Andrew Garbarino, Tom Reed, John Katko, and Claudia Tenney.
“We request the Department of Justice (DOJ) immediately open an obstruction of justice investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration,” the letter began. “It is now being reported that the Cuomo administration has admitted to knowingly withholding information on New York State’s nursing home deaths out of fear it would be used against them as part of a federal investigation. This intentional and unconscionable coverup impacting thousands of our most vulnerable residents cannot go without consequences.”
“For months, family members, news outlets, and lawmakers alike have been calling on the Cuomo administration to report information regarding the number of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19, including those who died in a nursing home facility or after being transferred to another location,” the letter continued. “On March 25, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order mandating that ‘[n]o resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,’ and prohibited nursing homes from requiring medically stable hospitalized residents to be tested for COVID-19 prior to their admission or readmission. In May 2020, only after intense backlash and unnecessary suffering, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) reversed its policy.”
The lawmakers noted that they previously wrote to the DOJ after New York’s attorney general released a report showing that the Cuomo administration had severely undercounted the number of deaths in the nursing homes.
“It is now being reported that Secretary to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, admitted to a group of Democrat state legislators that the Governor’s office withheld this information from the federal government out of fear that it would ‘be used against us’ by the DOJ. Even more concerning, DeRosa also reportedly said that the DOJ was no longer focused on New York’s nursing homes,” the letter concluded. “We request your department immediately open an obstruction of justice investigation into Governor Cuomo and his administration. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.”
🚨BREAKING: NY GOP Congressional delegation is calling on @TheJusticeDept to open Obstruction of Justice investigation into Cuomo/his admin. They covered-up the true consequences of his nursing home policy & now it’s being reported they withheld info to block a DOJ investigation! pic.twitter.com/x0j0zEIugH
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) February 12, 2021
The news comes after 14 New York state senators, all Democrats, called for Cuomo to be stripped of his emergency pandemic powers following the scandal.
“Without exception, the New York State Constitution calls for the Legislature to govern as a co-equal branch of government,” the senators said. “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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