Cuomo released American Crisis: Lessons in Leadership in October 2020
The US Department of Justice has subpoenaed material related to a memoir written by New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of an investigation into a possible cover-up of COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
Prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York are said to have requested communications related to Cuomo’s book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The DOJ would be looking for a large number 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 investigate the details of the nursing home debacle discussed in the memoir.
The governor’s office is subject to multiple investigations into a possible cover-up on the true number of nursing home deaths attributable to COVID-19.
Among those who received subpoenas for materials were state officials who helped edit early drafts of Cuomo’s book. The Wall Street Journal reported.
Prosecutors are thought to be interested in book-related material because they captured a real-time snapshot of Cuomo’s work around nursing homes.
Justice Department has subpoenaed material related to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent memoir regarding covid death count in state nursing homes
“If reflections captured in archives and notes don’t align with what he said in public or with disclosures to health or government officials, that’s potentially problematic,” said Michael Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor for the magazine.
Republican lawmakers have accused the Cuomo administration of deliberately manipulating and obfuscating COVID data on fatalities.
The data saw the deliberate undercounting of thousands of deaths in New York’s assisted living apartments in an effort to shield the governor from political criticism.
Federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation in February into the governor’s alleged mismanagement of state nursing homes during the pandemic.
A month earlier, a report from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James suggested that the number of deaths in nursing homes may have been underestimated by as much as half.
More than 6,000 COVID-19-positive people were returned to the nursing homes, potentially exposing staff and other residents to the virus that affects older people much more often than younger people. (File photo from January 2021 of a nursing home in Harlem)
In his book, Cuomo defends a March 2020 directive that banned nursing homes from denying residents entry just because they tested positive for COVID.
It meant more than 6,000 COVID-19-positive people were returned to the nursing homes, potentially exposing staff and other residents to the virus that affects older people much more often than younger people.
Some lawmakers have argued that the order contributed to the high death rate among New York’s assisted care facilities.
The virus was nothing but deadly in nursing homes.
In March 2020, an edict from Cuomo meant that nursing homes were forced to admit positive COVID patients after they were released from the hospital.
The order, which was later withdrawn, saw more than 6,000 COVID-positive patients return to nursing homes between March and May. It meant that the actual impact of the virus on such facilities was grossly underestimated.
Families who had relatives who died from COVID-19 during a March 2021 nursing protest demanded an investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo’s deaths and liability
Between March and May — when Cuomo reversed the guideline after much 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 infections until after the order, but there is no data on which COVID-19 patients have and which have not accepted.
In his memoir, Cuomo emphasizes that the warrant was necessary to prevent hospitals from being overrun with patients and tied up for resources.
Cuomo said the policy was consistent with federal guidelines at the time.
He has resisted criticism of the directive and has never apologized for it.
The governor suggested that any criticism was part of a Republican political campaign to blame the Covid deaths on Democrats.
For most of 2020, New York state officials only attributed Covid deaths to nursing homes if a resident in that facility died.
Requests from lawmakers, journalists and families to release the number of nursing home residents who died after being transferred to hospitals or other facilities were withheld.
The governor explained the withholding as a delay while verifying the accuracy of the data.
A top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, said in February that the delayed release of nursing home data came because the state feared the information would be politicized by former President Donald Trump.
People who contracted COVID in nursing homes were then sent to hospitals where they later died (file photo of a woman being treated in a Brooklyn home)
Investigators are also looking at a number of federal laws that may have been violated, including the False Claims Act, which makes it illegal to knowingly file a false record with the government.
The probe also looks at the draft state law that would allow civil and criminal immunity to be granted to nursing home operators and also whether it prioritized coronavirus testing for people near Cuomo.
The subpoena announcement came after it was revealed that Cuomo’s book was in line to earn $5.1 million.
Cuomo, who won an Emmy for his daily COVID press briefings, has reportedly brought in $3.21 million in 2020 and is expected to receive another $2 million, to be paid out over the next two years.
The controversial book was released in October, just before New York’s COVID-19 numbers peaked again and Cuomo put the state back on 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 investigation was also opened in April to determine whether Cuomo unlawfully used state resources, including staffers, to draft and promote the book.
Junior staffers reported that their duties included editing early drafts, attending pitch meetings, and even printing and delivering manuscript pages of the book to his mansion.
Cuomo told The New York Times that all of the staff members who have worked on the book have done so voluntarily and that some “minor” work has been done on it occasionally.
It came after state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli sent a formal letter of referral to James stating that the evidence warranted a criminal investigation.
In addition to a sexual harassment scandal at work, Cuomo faces four federal investigations.