The pressure is building inside the NY Governor’s Mansion on Friday after a combative press conference on Friday by Andrew Cuomo in which he expressed little regret over the way his Administration handled the request from information by the Department of Justice back in August 2020, justifying their refusal to supply accurate numbers — and keeping the truth from the New York legislature at the same time — because he was convinced the Trump Administration was only in interested in pursuing a political angle.
The entire press conference is on YouTube if you have the intestinal fortitude to get through it all.
Cuomo’s admission brings him in line with the admission made by his Chief of Staff, Melissa De Rosa, earlier this week when she apologized to state Democrat lawmakers for providing them with inaccurate information about nursing home deaths based on the same justification.
Both are a bit hard to reconcile with the fact that the Cuomo Administration began its inaccurate reporting of nursing home deaths — by not counting deaths of nursing home patients who were hospitalized at the time of their passing — in May 2020, almost four months before the August 26, 2020, request for data from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
Cuomo said that the Department of Justice’s request under the Trump administration for nursing home deaths in New York was asked only of Democratic governors. It was asked for on the same day, he said, claiming that he suspected a political angle to the ask.
“I guess that was coincidental,” he said, “I guess that wasn’t political.”
He said that while the New York state legislature was annoyed that his administration halted their request for information into the nursing home deaths in August, he had an obligation to prioritize the DOJ’s request.
This is what happens when politicians attempt to explain-away misconduct by nonsensical statements — “he had an obligation to prioritize the DOJ’s request”.
While those aren’t his words quoted, the suggestion is that he “prioritized” misleading the Justice Department out of political considerations, and those considerations came ahead of providing accurate information to the NY Legislature which had a role to play in formulating the policy of the State of New York in dealing with the COVID pandemic about which New York was “ground central.”
He never denied the core allegation — that his administration made a conscious decision to not include all deaths of nursing home patients in a single entry so as to obscure the connection between his order that COVID positive nursing home patients released by hospitals back to their nursing homes, and a large number of deaths of residents in those nursing homes who contracted COVID as a result of the introduction of the virus into the homes by those returning residents.
Cuomo tried to rationalize his way out from under the admission that his Administration had purposely publicized inaccurate data by claiming that the total number of COVID deaths reported had never been changed.
“All the information that the state pout out about the deaths… from day one… total deaths… the same number,” he said, dismissing the findings from State Attorney General Letitia James’ office that the total number of deaths among nursing home residents was undercounted.
“This information of total deaths was provided always,” Cuomo said.
“It is a lie to say any numbers were inaccurate, that is a lie. Total deaths were always reported to nursing homes and hospitals.”
As I wrote earlier, the news that the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York have opened an investigation means this is now a criminal inquiry, and it is not focused on the Cuomo policy mandating that COVID positive nursing home patients be readmitted after they were released by hospitals. That was a civil matter within the purview of the DOJ Civil Rights Division.
The FBI and US Attorney work together on criminal investigations, and their interest is certainly focused on the question of whether members of the Cuomo Administration, including the Governor himself, might have conspired to obstruct the nascent DOJ investigation last summer.
At the end of that story I noted the following:
Don’t think for a minute that because Democrats now run DOJ that Cuomo will get a pass. There are plenty of Democrat politicians in NY and DC who would see their own prospects brighten in the event of Cuomo’s fall. This is a circumstance where the knives probably come out for Cuomo, and someone gets his scalp.
That has proven to be prophetic, as after his press conference Democrat “Squad Leader” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — AOC — put out a statement calling for an investigation of the nursing home death scandal:
— Katie Glueck (@katieglueck) February 19, 2021
There it is — that is the dam breaking in anything resembling a unified Democrat front to defend the Cuomo Administration which finds itself more under siege every day, and getting less and less traction in the argument “blah blah blah TRUMP blah blah blah.”
The first sign that this was likely to end badly was when Democrat NY Attorney General — and aspirant for higher political office — Leticia James issued what has been called a “scathing” report of the Administration’s handling of the nursing home problems, showing that the Cuomo administration undercounted deaths in nursing homes by up to 50 percent.
Now, another prominent NY Democrat who is said to harbor a willingness to challenge old-bull NY Democrat power broker Chuck Schumer joins in the call to investigate the Democrat Governor on a matter with overt implications of criminal misconduct on both the state and federal level.