A group of nine Republican senators on Wednesday asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to investigate New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration over what the lawmakers called a “cover-up” of the Covid-19 death toll in state nursing homes.
The group, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), wrote a letter calling for the committee’s chair, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), to launch the probe after Cuomo’s top aide told lawmakers the administration purposely withheld the state’s nursing home death toll from federal prosecutors, as first reported by the New York Post on Thursday.
“The American people deserve to know the extent to which Governor Cuomo and his senior staff violated the civil rights of New York seniors, lied to the Department of Justice about their actions, and violated federal civil and criminal laws in the process,” the senators wrote.
Since last week’s report, there have been calls for Cuomo’s impeachment, resignation and the removal of his pandemic-driven emergency powers. The senators stressed that committee hearings would make sure the Department of Justice “has all the tools and funding that it needs to investigate and prosecute to the extent necessary this tragedy and subsequent cover-up.”
“But an investigation by the Department of Justice is rightly conducted behind closed doors and will not provide timely and public accountability for those who played politics with Covid-19 at the expense of the lives of American senior citizens,” the senators wrote.
Cruz was joined by eight other Republican members of the Judiciary Committee: Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
The letter also calls on Judge Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, to investigate the governor.
“When Judge Garland testifies before this Committee, we expect him to commit the Department of Justice to fully investigating this cover-up to determine whether any criminal laws were violated and to prosecute any violations,” the senators wrote. “We will also ask him whether he has the resources he needs to fully pursue an investigation, not only into the deaths that occurred in New York but the deaths that occurred in other states that adopted similar directives leading to the admission of COVID-19 infected persons into elder care facilities.”
Cuomo first addressed the episode on Monday, when he declined to apologize for his administration’s decision.
“Apologize? Look I have said repeatedly, we made a mistake in creating the void,” Cuomo said. “The void allowed misinformation and conspiracy, and now people are left with the thought of ‘Did my loved one have to die?’ And that is a brutal, brutal question to pose to a person. And I want everyone to know everything was done — everything was done — by the best minds in the best interest, and the last thing that we wanted to do, the last thing that I wanted to do, was to aggravate a terrible situation.”
On Wednesday evening, former President Donald Trump addressed the scandal on Newsmax’s “Greg Kelly Reports,” condemning the governor.
“I look at it, and it’s surprising what happened in New York, and we did, we gave [Cuomo] him the Javits Center, we gave him the ship, the great hospital ship and essentially they weren’t used,” Trump said. “Spent a lot of money, and they weren’t used … you could have the patients go there. You could have people go, it would have saved a lot of lives. It’s too bad.”
Matthew Choi contributed to this report.