Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves FBI and Andrew Cuomo.
A federal investigation into New York Govenor Andrew Cuomo handling Nursing Homes during the pandemic has focused in recent weeks on whether the governor and his senior aides provided false data on resident deaths to the Justice Department, according to four people with knowledge of the investigation. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have contacted lawyers for Cuomo’s aides, interviewed senior officials from the state Health Department and subpoenaed Cuomo’s office for documents related to the disclosure of data last year, the people said.
The interviews included questions about information New York State submitted last year to the Justice Department, which had asked the state for data on Covid-19 cases and deaths in nursing homes, according to the people. False statements in such a submission could constitute a crime. In some cases, agents traveled to the homes of state health officials to interview them about the data. In others, they spoke to officials by phone, according to the people, who requested anonymity to discuss the active investigation.
The actions, which came in recent weeks, appeared to add to the legal pressure faced by Cuomo, as well as by his most senior aides, who may have played a role in withholding the true count of nursing home deaths from the public for months. A spokesman for the Eastern District of New York, which is overseeing the investigation, declined to comment.
Elkan Abramowitz, an outside lawyer hired by the state to represent the governor’s office in the federal inquiry, said in a statement that “the submission in response to D.O.J.’s August request was truthful and accurate and any suggestion otherwise is demonstrably false.” Cuomo has faced scrutiny for months over his policies related to nursing homes. The question of how many nursing home residents had died both in the facilities and after being treated at hospitals became a political issue for Cuomo,who is a third-term Democrat, came under criticism from both Democrats in Albany and from national Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.
The state initially publicized only the number of residents who died of Covid-19 inside nursing homes, even after it became aware that thousands more residents had died after being transferred to hospitals.
Aides to the governor said they had not revealed data on residents who died in hospitals because the information was incomplete and needed to be vetted.
The state revealed the full count which added thousands of additional deaths only in January, after a report by the State Attorney General suggested an undercount, and after a state court ordered the data be made public in response to a lawsuit filed by the Empire Center, a conservative think tank. As of this month, New York has recorded the deaths of more than 15,000 nursing home residents with Covid-19. Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, tried to explain why the administration had withheld the data last year to state lawmakers in a conference call, saying she and others “froze” because of the federal request for data, which came in late August as the governor faced criticism over nursing homes.