New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is under investigation by the FBI and a federal prosecutor in an investigation linked to Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his decision to force nursing homes to accept patients with COVID-19, according to a new report.
The probe is being led by the Brooklyn-based U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York, according to the Albany Times-Union, which cited “a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly.”
The report said the probe, which is just getting underway, will examine what has been done by senior members of the governor’s coronavirus task force.
In its report on the investigation, The New York Times cited “one of the people familiar with the matter” as saying investigators have already been in touch with the Cuomo administration.
The Times reported that it was unclear if the probe is targeting Cuomo or others around him.
The newspaper said the new probe was separate from a Justice Department investigation that was launched last year and conducted by the department’s civil rights division.
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, told the Times-Union. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, would neither confirm nor deny the investigation existed.
Cuomo created a task force last March to advise him on the coronavirus. Its members include Linda Lacewell, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services; Health Commissioner Howard Zucker; Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor; and Beth Garvey, counsel to the governor.
Cuomo has been under intense criticism ever since the disclosure by DeRosa that the Cuomo administration had hidden from lawmakers the full scope of the state’s massive death toll of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19.
DeRosa told Democrats in a video conference call that the administration did not give them the data because the state was essentially trying to hide the numbers from the Justice Department, according to a bombshell New York Post report Feb. 11.
Cuomo’s administration has fought desperately to keep a lid on the numbers. New York Attorney General Letitia James last month released a report showing Cuomo’s administration underreported nursing home deaths by about 50 percent.
The governor has tried to brush off the incident as a “breakdown in communication between the staff and members of the legislature.”
However, the Democrats who control the state Legislature are now saying that want to curtail the emergency powers Cuomo assumed at the start of the pandemic last March.
NEW: 14 Democratic senators issue a joint statement calling for the removal of Cuomo’s emergency powers. pic.twitter.com/mYwFjMeuDB
— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) February 12, 2021
Democratic Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou said it was time for lawmakers to “take back our legislative power.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said there is a need for change.
“I think everyone understands where we were back in March and where we are now,” she said. “We certainly see the need for a quick response but also want to move toward a system of increased oversight and review. The public deserves to have checks and balances.”
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa on Monday called upon President Joe Biden to allow Antoinette Bacon, the acting U.S. attorney in New York’s Northern District, to investigate Cuomo, the Times-Union reported.
Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in the Manhattan-based Southern District, which would normally conduct such an investigation, is DeRosa’s mother-in-law, and Grassley said she should not be involved in any probe.
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