New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fall from public grace continues.
The FBI and Department of Justice are investigating the governor for actions related to the nursing home scandal cover-up, the Times Union has reported.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned.
“The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly,” the report continued.
The Cuomo administration has responded to reports that its mishandling of nursing home residents due to a March 2020 order that returned COVID-positive patients to their long-term care facilities was under Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
The Times notes that “Azzopardi did not disclose whether any members of the administration have been interviewed or if they have been served with any subpoenas.”
In late January, the Cuomo cover-up was exposed by his own Attorney General Letitia James. The dam burst open in February when the New York Post obtained a leak from Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa that indicates his motive for hiding data that showed nursing home resident mortality rates were 40% higher than reported was to avoid scrutiny from the Trump DOJ.
On Tuesday, Cuomo was accused of “obstruction of justice” by nine Democratic lawmakers in the state assembly.
“Nine Democratic members of the New York State Assembly… accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of federal obstruction of justice in a letter seeking support to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers,” the New York Post reported.
“It is now unambiguously clear that this governor has engaged in an intentional obstruction of justice, as outlined in Title 18, Chapter 73 of the United States Code,” the letter stated.
“In response to this criminal use of power, Assemblymember Ron Kim and Senator [Alessandra] Biaggi are introducing a bill to repeal the amendments to the Executive Law that were passed by the Legislature one year ago…that expanded the Governor’s authority to unilaterally suspend entire state statutes in response to an impending state emergency,” Kim and other lawmakers wrote.
“This is a necessary first step in beginning to right the criminal wrongs of this Governor and his administration.”
Kim said in an interview with the Post he believed “Cuomo had violated the section of federal law that covers ‘obstruction of criminal investigations of health care offenses.'”
“That crime carries a maximum five-year prison sentence,” the Post notes.
Janice Dean, Senior Meteorologist at Fox News and a fierce critic of Cuomo, reported that there is no public evidence that the New York governor has turned over documents to the Department of Justice as had been requested.
Cuomo and his administration did not give anything to the DOJ. I spoke to a senior official in December who told me they gave them nothing. Show me receipts @NYGovCuomo of your correspondence.
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) February 15, 2021
“Cuomo and his administration did not give anything to the DOJ,” Dean reported. “I spoke to a senior official in December who told me they gave them nothing. Show me receipts [New York Governor Cuomo] of your correspondence.”
Andrew Cuomo is now facing intense pressure from New York Democrats, as well as a fierce public backlash that includes threats of impeachment.
“New York Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro called Monday for impeachment proceedings and a criminal investigation to be launched against Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the alleged cover-up of nursing home deaths under his administration,” Fox News reported on Monday.
Jack O’Donnell, an author who has written a book on a prior case of a New York governor’s impeachment called “Bitten by the Tiger,” relates a 1913 case of a governor named William Sulzer being removed by state legislators. Sulzer had crossed the infamous Tammany Hall machine and was removed by a rival named Charlie Murphy. The incident was recently reported by Spectrum News and is an interesting backdrop to both the state and national news about impeachment.
Sulzer was part of the Tammany Hall political machine, but after being elected to the governor’s seat, O’Donnell said he engaged in a power struggle with Charlie Murphy, the organization’s boss. Murphy ultimately won.
“At the end of the day, Tammany controlled enough legislators that they were able to oust Sulzer,” he told Spectrum News. “Impeachment really is a partisan and sometimes a hyper-partisan process,” he added.
Regardless of the partisan nature of the process, various state Democratic lawmakers are engaged in a furious feud with Andrew Cuomo. Forbes reported that Ron Kim alleges Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him in a recent phone call.
“New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday of threatening to ‘destroy’ Kim’s career in retaliation for Kim criticizing Cuomo’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes, marking the latest scandal for the embattled governor,” Forbes reported.
Andrew Cuomo fired back at Kim for the allegations in a Wednesday press conference.
“Facing mounting criticism over his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo spent more than twenty minutes of his press briefing Wednesday publicly lashing out at a state lawmaker who had faulted him for mishandling the crisis,” the Gothamist reported.
“If you attack my integrity and my administration’s integrity, am I going to fail to respond? No. No,” Cuomo railed. The New York governor proceeded to allege Kim had engaged in a scandal of his own, which was purportedly related to a 2015 report about his vote change on a bill impacting Queens nail salon owners.
On Monday, Cuomo gave a press conference that drew heated condemnation from media observers for numerous misleading statements. The New York governor is now in full crisis PR mode as both the media, and now law enforcement, are reported to be increasing their scrutiny.
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