Cuomo released American Crisis: Lessons in Leadership in October 2020
The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed material connected to a memoir written by the Democratic governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, as part of an investigation into a possible cover-up of COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are said to have requested communications associated with Cuomo’s book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The DOJ is said to be after a host of materials that would have been used during the pitching process to publishers – including various contracts and documents.
The subpoenas have been issued as prosecutors continue to probe the the details of the nursing home debacle which was discussed in the memoir.
The governor’s office has been under multiple investigations as to a possible cover-up of the true number of deaths in nursing homes that could be attributed to COVID-19.
State officials who helped with the editing of early versions of Cuomo’s book were among the individuals who received subpoenas for materials, The Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s thought prosecutors might be interested in book-related materials because they will have captured a real-time snapshot of Cuomo’s work surrounding nursing homes.
The Dept Of Justice has subpoenaed material related to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent memoir with regards to the counting of covid deaths in state nursing homes
‘If reflections memorialized in records and notes are inconsistent with what he was saying publicly or with disclosures to health or government officials, that is potentially problematic,’ said Michael Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor to the Journal.
Republican lawmakers have accused Cuomo’s administration of intentionally manipulating and obscuring the COVID fatality data.
The data saw the intentional undercounting of thousands of deaths, in New York’s assisted-living facilities in an attempt to shield the governor from political criticism.
Federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into the governor’s alleged mismanagement of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic in February.
One month earlier, a report from New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office suggested that nursing home deaths were potentially undercounted by as much as half.
More than 6,000 COVID-19-positive people were sent back into the nursing homes, potentially exposing staff and other residents to the virus which attacks elderly people at a far higher rate than younger people. (File photo from January 2021 of a Harlem nursing home)
In his book, Cuomo defends a March 2020 directive that prohibited nursing homes from denying entry to residents just because they tested positive for COVID.
It meant more than 6,000 COVID-19-positive people were sent back into the nursing homes, potentially exposing staff and other residents to the virus which attacks elderly people at a far higher rate than younger people.
Some lawmakers have claimed the order contributed to the high mortality rate among New York assisted-care facilities.
The virus was nothing but deadly in nursing homes.
In March 2020, an edict from Cuomo meant nursing homes were forced to take positive COVID patients after they were released from hospital.
The order, which was later revoked, saw more than 6,000 COVID positive patients heading back into nursing homes between March and May. It meant the true impact of the virus on such facilities had being grossly underestimated.
Families who had relatives that died from COVID-19 in nursing protest in March 2021 demanding an investigation into the deaths and accountability from Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Between March and May – when Cuomo reversed the directive after widespread criticism – 6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to 310 nursing homes.
Of the approximately 600 public nursing homes in New York, at least 323 homes had never had any infections until after the order but there is no data on which accepted COVID-19 patients and which didn’t.
In his memoir, Cuomo insists the order was necessary to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients and being strapped for resources.
Cuomo said that the policy was in line with federal guidelines at the time.
He has resisted criticism for the directive and he has never apologized for it.
The governor suggested that any criticism was part of a Republican political campaign to blame Covid deaths on Democrats.
For most of 2020, New York state officials only attributed Covid deaths to nursing homes if a resident died at that facility.
Requests from lawmakers, journalists and families to release the number of nursing-home residents who died after being transferred to hospitals or other facilities was withheld.
The governor explained the withholding as a delay while the data’s accuracy was being verified.
A top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said in February that the delayed release of nursing home data occurred because the state feared the information would be politicized by former President Donald Trump.
People who caught COVID in nursing homes were then sent to hospitals where they later died (file photo of a woman receiving treatment in a Brooklyn home)
Investigators are also looking at a number of federal laws that may have been broken including the False Claims Act, which makes it illegal to knowingly submit a false record to the government.
The probe is also looking at the draft of a state law that allowed civil and criminal immunity to be granted to nursing-home operators and also whether priority access coronavirus testing was given to people close to Cuomo.
The announcement of the subpoena came after it was revealed Cuomo’s book was in line to earn $5.1 million.
Cuomo, who won an Emmy for his daily COVID press briefings, reportedly secured $3.21 million in 2020 and is set to receive an additional $2 million which will be paid out over the next two years.
The controversial book was released in October, just before New York’s COVID-19 numbers spiked again and Cuomo sent the state back into lockdown.
His book publisher, Crown – a division of Penguin Random House – stopped promoting it after the nursing home scandal, and as a number of women publicly accused him of sexual misconduct this year.
A second inquiry was also opened in April in order to determine whether Cuomo unlawfully abused state resources, including staffers, to draft and promote the book.
Junior staffers reported that their tasks included editing early drafts, sitting in on pitch meetings, and even printing and delivering manuscript pages of the book to his mansion.
Cuomo told The New York Times that any staffers who worked on the book did so voluntarily and that there may have been some ‘minor’ work on it done incidentally.
It came after state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli sent a formal referral letter to James saying that the evidence warranted a criminal investigation.
In addition to a scandal involving sexual harassment in the work place, Cuomo is facing four federal inquiries.