House Minority Whip Steve Scalise blasted the Biden Justice Department’s decision to drop its investigation into Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to order nursing homes to take in patients sickened with COVID-19 as the then-burgeoning pandemic was ravaging eldercare facilities in his state.
“It is 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,” the Louisiana Republican said Friday in a statement after the department informed House Republicans it was dropping its probe.
“Where is the justice for nursing home victims and their grieving families? These deadly orders contradicted the CDC’s guidance, and needlessly endangered the most vulnerable among us to the deadly COVID-19 virus,” Scalise noted further.
“Even worse, Governor 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,” he added.
The DOJ said that a separate probe by federal prosecutors into the allegations against Cuomo would continue. The department also said it would not be launching an investigation into decisions made by leaders in Michigan and Pennsylvania after they, too, “required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing,”
In August, the department requested information from New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to determine if their nursing home policies during the pandemic led to an increase in the number of deaths from the virus. The DoJ has since refused to launch deeper investigations under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) in all of those states except New Jersey, where a probe is ongoing.
“We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the Department. Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time,” the DoJ said in a letter to Scalise.
Cuomo was at one point widely lauded for his handling of the pandemic, but he began to draw bipartisan criticism after media investigations found that after ordering some 6,000 COVID-infected patients to be accepted by nursing homes, the decision resulted in as many as 1,100 additional deaths or more.
In addition, the governor has been accused of covering up nursing home deaths as well.
“The changes Mr. Cuomo’s aides and health officials made to the nursing-home report, which haven’t been previously disclosed, reveal that the state possessed a fuller accounting of out-of-facility nursing-home deaths as early as the summer,” The Wall Street Journal reported in March.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, told state Democrats in a video conference call that the administration “froze” after then-President Donald Trump started focusing on the number of deaths in New York nursing homes.
“He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” DeRosa said, according to reports at the time. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.”
Trump then “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us,” DeRosa added.
“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,” she reportedly said. “That played a very large role in this.”
“They should all go to jail,” Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost both of her in-laws to COVID in separate New York nursing homes, wrote on Twitter after the Journal’s report.
In a statement issued this week, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, chair of the House Republican Conference, said that the Biden administration is now “complicit” in Cuomo’s alleged criminal activity related to his nursing home fiasco.
🚨 STATEMENT 🚨
Biden is now Complicit in Cuomo’s Nursing Home Coverup. pic.twitter.com/g5jAlLFQpC
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) July 23, 2021
“This decision from President Biden’s Department of Justice makes President Biden complicit in the criminal corruption scandal and coverup of deaths of thousands of vulnerable seniors,” she said.
“New Yorkers deserve answers and accountability,” she continued, adding that she was “the first member of Congress to call for an investigation” into Cuomo’s actions.
“Tens of thousands of heartbroken New Yorkers are counting on his to deliver justice for their loved ones,” she added.
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