New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should pay the price for his administration’s admitted deception about the numbers of nursing home patients who died of COVID-19, according to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.
More than 13,000 elderly New Yorkers in nursing homes have died of COVID-19. Some of those deaths have been blamed on a March 2020 order issued by Cuomo’s Department of Health that required nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients.
Cuomo had been refusing to release a full count of how many nursing home residents died until state Attorney General Letitia James revealed in a report that the Cuomo administration was vastly undercounting them.
The firestorm around the Democratic governor’s conduct flared anew after a bombshell report Thursday that Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa revealed the numbers were deliberately hidden to ensure federal investigators did not know the whole story.
The New York Post obtained an audio recording in which DeRosa made the admission, in a video conference call with state Democratic leaders, that the Cuomo administration decided not to be forthcoming because former President Donald Trump had turned the New York coronavirus deaths “into a giant political football” and was “tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes.”
De Rosa said the action came after Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”
“And basically, we froze,” she said in the recording, according to the Post. “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, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
And that, according to Stefanik, crossed the line from politics to prosecution.
“Governor Cuomo, the Secretary to the Governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately — both by the Attorney General of New York State and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Stefanik said in a statement.
“This bombshell admission of a coverup and the remarks by the Secretary to the Governor indicating intent to obstruct any federal investigation is a stunning and criminal abuse of power,” she said.
“I have said from the beginning that this is more than a nursing home scandal, this is a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government implicating the Governor, the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Health Commissioner and the Governor’s staff,” Stefanik said.
“The families who lost loved ones, New Yorkers, and all Americans deserve accountability from the U.S. Department of Justice that will be independent and not swayed by the desperate political pressure from Governor Cuomo,” she said.
Stefanik said President Joe Biden cannot let this action slide.
“It is the responsibility of the President to ensure the independence of the Department of Justice. After the self-implicating admission by Governor Cuomo and his staff, it is clear to every American that this investigation must go forward,” she said.
Governor Cuomo, the secretary to the governor, and his senior team must be prosecuted immediately – both by the attorney general of New York state and the U.S. Department of Justice.https://t.co/ntkbobkS65
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) February 12, 2021
State Republicans also called for action.
Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay said hearings are necessary to find the truth.
“The Cuomo Administration hid the truth from the public,” he said in a news release.
“Through lawsuits, a legislative hearing, constant inquiries from families, media and lawmakers and an attorney general investigation, they refused to tell the full story. Only after the AG’s report confirmed that the department of health underreported nursing home deaths by 50 percent did the governor and his team provide information,” Barclay said.
“Now is the time for accountability. The Legislature should hold bipartisan hearings, using subpoena power, and the Department of Justice should expand its efforts to investigate what happened here. We have a duty to get answers for more than 14,000 families who lost loved ones due to highly questionable decisions and what has been an ongoing cover-up,” he said.
How much longer until Governor Cuomo owns up to it? https://t.co/Zb4vv9l9xx
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) February 12, 2021
State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, a Republican, noted that DeRosa’s only apology for the deception was for any political inconvenience suffered by Democrats.
“Instead of apologizing or providing answer to the thousands of New York families who lost loved ones, the governor’s administration made apologies to politicians behind closed doors for the ‘political inconvenience’ this scandal has caused them,” he said, according to Fox News.
“If the governor is involved, he should be immediately removed from office,” Ortt said.
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