This will certainly make for an interesting chapter in Andrew Cuomo’s next self-congratulatory book on leadership, right? The Albany Times-Union reported last night that the problems facing the embattled Love Gov on his nursing-home scandal got a whole lot worse. Just hours after Cuomo smeared one of his Democratic critics for not cooperating in the cover-up, the paper revealed that the FBI and US Attorney had opened an investigation into Cuomo’s administration:
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. …
It’s unclear whether the federal probe by the office of acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme is tied to two letters that Cuomo’s administration received from a civil division attorney at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., last year seeking information on the state’s nursing home policies and data.
That seems likely to remain in play for this investigation. However, this leaked tidbit from Melissa DeRosa’s testimony in a closed-door legislative session last week would have prompted this escalation — in fact, all but guaranteed it. DeRosa practically bragged about misleading the Department of Justice in their earlier inquiries and said the deception was intended to keep investigators out of the governor’s operations:
In addition to attacking Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, DeRosa said, Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us.”
“And basically, we froze,” she told the lawmakers on the call.
“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
DeRosa added: “That played a very large role into this.”
We lied to the DoJ because Trump Trump Trump didn’t even sell among Cuomo’s fellow Democrats. It’s certainly not going to sell at the DoJ itself, not when thousands of excess deaths went unreported and the clear beneficiary of the cover-up is CNN’s Favorite Brother. After this leaked, Cuomo then added to the appearance of a cover-up by threatening Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), and then backing up the threat by accusing Kim of corruption to undermine his criticism:
“He spent 10 minutes berating me, yelling at me, threatening me and my career, my livelihood,” Kim said. The lawmaker said that his wife heard much of the interaction and was shocked and scared, saying she “didn’t sleep that night.”
Kim says the governor’s team could have disclosed the numbers months ago, and with that data, believes policy changes could have possibly helped save lives.
“I refuse to be a cover-up for him, and that’s why he’s coming after me and trying to punish me,” Kim said, adding he’s just trying to do what he believes is the right thing. “They admitted to covering up information about life and death.”
He is one of many now in Albany, from both sides of the political aisle, accusing the administration of a cover-up, saying it was done to “protect (Cuomo’s) politics, his political future.”
If the DoJ wasn’t interested in Cuomo before yesterday, that stunt over nail salons and Kim’s public revelation about what preceded would have forced their hand anyway. Not only did Cuomo’s aide admit to deceiving the DoJ, now the Love Gov is publicly waging a campaign of intimidation against at least one elected official to keep the cover-up going. The only way Cuomo could possibly outdo the perception of corruption and incompetence he’s currently staging is to grow a Snidely Whiplash moustache and chortle, “Nyaah-haha!”
For his part, Cuomo insisted yesterday that withholding the information from the DoJ was a “mistake … not a crime.” US Attorneys and their prosecutors often have different perspectives on that distinction. Cuomo needs a good lawyer, one whose first piece of advice should be shut the hell up.
Update: NBC News reports that Cuomo’s troubles at home are growing, too.
NBC News has learned that both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office have launched a preliminary investigation into the state of New York’s handling of data related to COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. @annenbcnews has the latest. pic.twitter.com/gKdxvhueGT
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) February 18, 2021