Which scandal will end Andrew Cuomo’s career first? The Love Gov faces more political risk from his sexual harassment scandal, which continues to expand as his power to intimidate victims and witnesses wane. However, Cuomo’s legal risk comes from the scandal with a body count, and the New York Times reports that the FBI has begun pressing Cuomo’s high-level aides and state officials over fraudulent data submitted to the Department of Justice regarding nursing-home deaths:
A federal investigation into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s handling of 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 Mr. Cuomo’s aides, interviewed senior officials from the state Health Department and subpoenaed Mr. Cuomo’s office for documents related to the disclosure of data last year, the people said.
The interviews have 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 NYT gives a brief but solid overview of the scandal in their report, including Melissa DeRosa’s blatant lie to legislators about the false data being a result of a politicized probe from the Trump-era DoJ. The lies started two months before the DoJ ever took any interest in New York’s nursing-home data, when “top aides” to Cuomo pressured state health officials to cook those numbers in June of last year. In fact, the timing suggests that the cover-up at least correlates to the timing of Cuomo’s negotiations for a “mid-seven figure” advance for his book on, er, COVID-19 pandemic leadership.
This at least seems to answer one question: would Joe Biden’s DoJ under Merrick Garland really go after a Democratic governor who acted as the counterweight to Donald Trump for most of 2020? Garland and the FBI take the cover-up pretty seriously so far, if this NYT report is accurate. That might be a testament to some efforts at depoliticization by Garland early in his tenure, plus the independence of Christopher Wray, who wasn’t exactly beloved by Trump. Or it just might be that this scandal plus the sexual-harassment morass Cuomo has created makes him worthless to Democrats.
Everyone knows how this will work, right? The FBI will begin by targeting the officials who submitted false information, and then either charge them with crimes or threaten to do so unless they cooperate. They’ll pressure these aides to roll over on their bosses, and by doing so will roll this scandal all the way up to its highest level. Given that Cuomo was the sole beneficiary of the material benefit of the cover-up — the millions of dollars paid for Cuomo’s auto-hagiography on pandemic leadership — it seems pretty reasonable to assume that this cover-up began at the top. You can bet that the FBI’s investigators think that’s a very good theory of this case.
If so, the only way that Cuomo escapes is if his aides fall on their swords and refuse to implicate Cuomo in the cover-up and the fraudulent reports. How likely is that? Is Cuomo the kind of leader who promoted loyalty through mentorship and protecting his employees? Or the kind of boss that bullied people and treated them like objects for his own amusement, and kept them in line only by fear?
My advice to Cuomo is …