This CNN report on Andrew Cuomo’s nursing-home scandal is interesting for two reasons. First, one does not find any reference to Republicans “pouncing” in any way. Second, it doesn’t contain an oversize Q-Tip, which has been emblematic of CNN’s coverage of the “Love Gov” for the past eleven months. Instead, CNN’s New Day hosts report that both Democrats and Republicans have called for the legislature to revoke Cuomo’s emergency powers, and the GOP leadership is now demanding hearings on impeachment.
And remarkably, the focus remains on the actual scandal throughout the segment:
Oddly, CNN doesn’t have any print report to go along with this story. Still, the tone of Cuomo coverage has very clearly changed over the last couple of weeks, and not just at CNN. The admission of a cover-up by Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa has changed all the dynamics for the Love Gov, even at his brother’s own network. The two guests from the Albany Times-Union make it clear this is a real scandal, complete with lies directly from Cuomo explicitly about nursing-home deaths.
USA Today reported on the scandal last night, again with nary a pounce to be found:
The top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged pausing the release of data on COVID-19 in nursing homes because the governor’s administration feared it could be “used against us” by the Department of Justice under then-President Donald Trump.
Now, a growing number of lawmakers of both parties are accusing Cuomo of withholding key data and calling on the legislature to strip him of his emergency powers, which have allowed him to unilaterally impose sweeping rules and restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic. …
The comments on the call drew a wave of rebukes from Republicans, who for months have been calling on the Legislature to rescind Cuomo’s emergency powers that have allowed him to unilaterally enact rules and restrictions during the pandemic. DeRosa’s comments spurred a number of Democrats to join the call Friday after a few had in previous days.
Republicans have also called on their Democratic colleagues, who control a majority in the state Senate and Assembly, to issue subpoenas to Cuomo’s office and the Department of Health for more information.
In a statement Thursday, state Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, Niagara County, called for a “top to bottom” investigation of Cuomo and his administration.
“This is clearly a gross obstruction of justice,” Ortt said.
Jesse McKinley, the New York Times’ bureau chief in Albany, professes skepticism at the prospect of impeachment. However, McKinley points out that Cuomo has a re-election campaign coming up next year and that this scandal would put a major dent in those plans. Right now, though, that seems to be the least of Cuomo’s acute worries. Any kind of lies and doctored data intended to prevent a legitimate investigation would be criminal acts, regardless of whether the legislature impeaches Cuomo or not. It’s certainly a much bigger deal than, say, Bridgegate, and that resulted in criminal prosecutions.
The changing tenor and narrative of this scandal creates a headache for Joe Biden and incoming Attorney General Merrick Garland, too. DeRosa admitted trying to obstruct the Department of Justice in probing the result of Cuomo’s actions. They can’t afford to ignore that without it demonstrating a clear politicization of the DoJ, the kind of thing that Biden accused Trump of doing. It’s clear that this story isn’t going away, either. At some point, Garland will have to do something about the potential obstruction of justice issues, at which point Cuomo might not want to wait around for whatever else the FBI and the state legislature dig up.
Update: Anyone else notice that Cuomo seems to be unusually shy these days? USA Today beat reporter Jon Campbell did:
As of 11:10 a.m., Gov. Cuomo hasn't released his public schedule for the day. His last public briefing was Wednesday.
— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) February 15, 2021
This might be the quietest Cuomo has been since the beginning of the pandemic.
Update: As an example of Democrats turning on Cuomo, here’s state senator Jessica Ramos on Friday rebuking Cuomo for driving his decisions by his “ego and his donor base”:
.@NYGovCuomo and his administration knowingly chose to lie & play politics with NYers’ lives. His emergency powers must be rescinded, he & his admin must be subpoenaed, and a full investigation must result in justice for our grieving families.
See my full statement below: pic.twitter.com/DXfi45j6K6
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) February 12, 2021
Ramos isn’t calling for impeachment — yet, anyway. She does want an investigation, complete with subpoenas, which is how impeachments begin. And Cuomo knows it.
Update: If the DoJ does open an investigation, they have another headache to consider — a potential conflict of interest:
If the Department of Justice investigates the Cuomo Administration’s refusal to turn over data on nursing home deaths, a huge conflict would arise if the case were handed to the powerful Manhattan federal prosecutor.
That’s because Audrey Strauss, the US Attorney for the Southern District, is the mother-in-law of top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, the figure at the center of the emerging scandal. …
“And basically, we froze,” DeRosa, who is secretary to the governor and his closest confidante, admitted to state lawmakers on a conference call.
“We weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice or what we give to you guys and what we start saying was going to be used against us and we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she told lawmakers on a conference call Wednesday.
DeRosa’s admission led one observer to quip “Did you freeze before or after you called your mother-in-law.”
Merrick Garland might wish that he’d stuck to the appellate bench before this wraps up.