New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday blamed “toxic politics” by the Trump administration for launching an investigation last year into allegations that the state caused more COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes and then covered up the data.
“The political environment has gotten so toxic in this country, so toxic, so mean,” Mr. Cuomo said at a news conference. “It was an outrageous allegation.”
The Justice Department under President Biden announced last week that it’s dropping a probe into whether New York and three other states violated anyone’s civil rights in their handling of COVID-19 cases at nursing homes.
Mr. Cuomo is still facing a probe by the FBI and the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office into whether his administration covered up the total number of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes.
The governor said the Trump administration’s investigation “was all politically motivated.”
“By the number of nursing home deaths as a percentage, New York is No. 31 in the country,” he said. “We’re not even near the top.”
He said then-President Trump wanted to deflect blame by asserting that “Democratic governors mishandled” the pandemic in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
“He pointed to deaths in nursing homes, a problem across the nation. That was his political narrative,” Mr. Cuomo said of Mr. Trump.
In a letter Friday, the Justice Department told House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, that New York would not be investigated for potential violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
“We have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time,” wrote Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joe Gaeta.
Mr. Scalise said it was “outrageous that the Department of Justice refuses to investigate the deadly ‘must admit’ orders issued by governors in New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that resulted in the deaths of thousands of senior citizens.”
“Where is the justice for nursing home victims and their grieving families? These deadly orders contradicted the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] guidance, and needlessly endangered the most vulnerable among us to the deadly COVID-19 virus,” Mr. Scalise said. “Even worse, Gov. Cuomo in New York intentionally tried to cover up the true death toll resulting from his mandate. Grieving families deserve answers and accountability. It’s unconscionable that Biden’s Department of Justice refuses to investigate the deadly actions that went against CDC’s medical guidance taken in these states.”
Mr. Cuomo’s press conference on Monday was his first since he testified behind closed doors in a state attorney general’s investigation of multiple sexual harassment allegations against him. The governor said New Yorkers will be “shocked” when the facts come out.
“I’m very eager to get the facts to the people of this state,” he said. “At the end of the day, the truth wins, and facts win. Facts trump — pardon the pun — ideology. I am eager for the truth to come out here. New Yorkers will be shocked.”