Cuomo aide tells NY Democrats administration hid nursing home data to keep it from Trump DOJ: Report

Newly released data shows that nursing home deaths were higher than previously reported

Per Fox News:

A top aide to New YorkGov. Andrew Cuomo told leading state Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny, according to a bombshell new report.

The revelation prompted condemnations and even talk of impeachment in Albany, the state's capital. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., wants the Department of Justice to open an obstruction of justice investigation.

"The families of thousands of dead New York seniors deserve accountability and justice for the true consequences of Governor Cuomo’s fatally flawed nursing home policy and the continued attempts to cover it up. It’s clear what's happening here is criminal," he said.

The New York Post first reported that Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, told leading Empire State Democrats that the administration feared the data could "be used against us" by the Justice Department during a video conference call.

The DOJ began investigating nursing home coronavirus deaths in four states back in August – and New York was one of them.

"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," DeRosa told the lawmakers, according to the Post report.

Rich Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo adviser, placed some of the blame on the Trump administration.

"We explained that the Trump administration was in the midst of a politically motivated effort to blame Democratic states for COVID deaths," he said Thursday evening. "And that we were cooperating with federal document productions -- and that was the priority. And now that it is over, we can address the state Legislature. That said, we were working simultaneously to complete the audit of information they were asking for."

News of the call sparked outrage among state Republicans and other critics of Cuomo’s conduct already incensed over his March 25 directive that ordered thousands of virus-infected seniors back into assisted-living facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care locations.

"The second most powerful person in state government and top aide to Gov. Cuomo admitted on video to the premeditated and willful violation of state laws and what clearly amounts to federal obstruction of justice," said state GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy. "Andrew Cuomo has abused his power and destroyed the trust placed in the office of governor. Prosecution and impeachment discussions must begin right away." 

Freedom of information data released Wednesday revealed that the nursing home death toll was far higher than previously reported. And those numbers emerged just two weeks after the state’s attorney general found that numbers released before the end of January were also underreported.

"It seems every decision coming out of the governor's office is about Team Cuomo protecting its own image and own interests," state Assemblyman William Barclay, the chamber’s Republican leader, told Fox News Thursday. "More than 15,000 seniors died in adult-care facilities, but the governor was clearly more worried about a DOJ investigation and political finger-pointing."

In response to a separate freedom of information request this week, state health officials told the Associated Press that more than 9,000 virus patients had been sent into nursing homes in the state before Cuomo reversed the directive on May 10.

"This administration intentionally withheld information from the public, from the press, from lawmakers and from the thousands of families who lost loved ones," Barclay said. "This is why closed-door conversations won't cut it. If this doesn't make it painfully obvious that we need to issue subpoenas and hold public hearings, I don't know what will."

Even Democratic lawmakers on the call pushed back against the administration’s excuses.

"In a pandemic, when you want the public to trust the public health officials, and there is this clear feeling that they’re not…being forthcoming with you, that is really hard," state Sen. Rachel May said during the call.

9 months, 1 week ago

Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform

9 months, 2 weeks ago

Arizona Governor Creates Shipping Container Border Wall

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has had hundreds of double-stacked shipping containers topped with razor wire placed on the state’s border with Mexico

9 months, 2 weeks ago

Stacey Abrams’s Georgia Nonprofit Could Face Criminal Investigations for Unlicensed Fundraising

New Georgia Project's charity license has lapsed in at least nine states

9 months, 2 weeks ago

Biden says ‘more important things’ than border visit, despite 59 trips to Delaware, 8 stops for ice cream

Biden has yet to visit southern border despite historic crisis under his watch

9 months, 2 weeks ago

Governor Kristi Noem delivers annual Budget Address, says the state can afford grocery tax cut

In about thirty minutes of remarks, Governor Kristi Noem laid out her administration would like to see nearly $2.2 billion spent over the course of the next fiscal year and a half.

9 months, 2 weeks ago

‘A Clear And Present Danger To Its Users:’ South Carolina Gov. Bans State Employees From Using TikTok Amid National Security Concerns

South Carolina became the second state in the union Monday to permanently ban state employees’ electronic devices from using TikTok amid federal officials sounding the alarm that the Chinese-based social media app threatens national security