New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home scandal could lead to federal charges, according to a longtime prosecutor.
John Daukas, who was acting attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Donald Trump, said that Cuomo could face criminal charges after underreporting nursing home deaths and then attempting to cover it up.
- Earlier story - COVID-19: Nursing Home Scandal Fallout Increases As More Dems Turn On Cuomo, Feds Launch Probe
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Daukas said that Cuomo’s administration misled the public, and the Justice Department’s Civil Division has the jurisdiction to investigate Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
Daukas made note that the Justice Department requested nursing home data in October on more than 600 privately run nursing homes, though they were stonewalled by Cuomo’s administration, claiming that the federal government was politicizing the virus.
“(Top Cuomo aide) Melissa DeRosa’s reported admissions indicate the Cuomo administration’s conduct wasn’t merely negligent, but intentional and perhaps criminal,’ Daukas said. “Numerous federal criminal statutes could apply.
“It’s a crime to make false statements to the federal government. It’s also a crime to conceal information and otherwise obstruct government investigations,” he continued. “New York may have engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and its agencies and possibly obstruct justice, among other crimes.”
- Related story - Watch: Fictional Britney Spears Seeks Apology From Cuomo For Nursing Home Scandal In SNL Skit
Daukas added: “Even if it cannot be proved that the Cuomo administration knowingly provided false information to Justice and (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), New York’s willful failure to provide information may itself constitute a criminal offense — particularly if the intent was to thwart a federal investigation — which, after all, is exactly what Ms. DeRosa reportedly said the administration did.”
The op-ed comes as pressure is mounting for Cuomo on both sides of the aisle, with Democrats and Republicans both looking to remove his emergency powers and some calling for the governor’s impeachment.
“Cuomo abused his powers to hide life and death information from the Department of Justice that prevented lawmakers from legislating – like fully repealing corporate immunity for nursing homes,” Assemblyman Ron Kim, who has been at the forefront of the attacks, posted on social media. "That is an impeachable offense.
“The only way to protect the integrity of the co-equal branch of the state government, AKA the 'People's House,' is to start impeachment.”
- Earlier story - COVID-19: Cuomo Calls For Nursing Home Reform Amid Federal Probe, Increasing Pressure
At a press conference on Monday, Feb. 22, Assemblyman Mike Lawler also called for Cuomo’s ousting and the removal of his emergency powers.
“In the past few weeks, we’ve seen Gov. Cuomo’s cover-up begin to unravel and his true colors show. The Legislature needs to act immediately and revoke the governor’s unchecked authority, now,” he said.
“Cuomo has manipulated the facts and placed the blame on others for his mistakes,” Lawler continued. “The governor touts that we’re ‘New York Tough,’ and that he places lives above politics, but he has no remorse for his despicable actions that have cost the lives of thousands of helpless New Yorkers in nursing homes.”
Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay added: “It should not have taken a national scandal regarding nursing home fatalities and federal investigation of the Governor’s office to reach this point.
“Rolling back Gov. Cuomo’s expanded authority is long overdue, but better late than never,” he said. “The fact is that New York State is a representative democracy.
“Unilateral rule is not how our government was ever supposed to run,” he continued. “We have arrived at a point that the trust and credibility of the Governor’s office has been severely compromised – possibly beyond the point of repair.”
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