New York GOP calls for subpoena of Cuomo over nursing home probe

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, addresses the crowd at her election night victory party in Glens Falls last year. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Every Republican member of Congress from New York signed onto a letter Wednesday asking the acting U.S. attorney general to immediately subpoena Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his team for all documents and communications related to the state’s COVID-19 nursing home policies.

This comes after state Attorney General Letitia A. James released a report last week detailing how Cuomo’s administration had underreported thousands of coronavirus-related deaths in state nursing homes by as much as 50%.

Just hours after James’ report was released, state Health Department officials released new data indicating 3,800, or about 40% more, nursing home residents had died from COVID-19 than was previously reported.

The increase did not alter New York’s coronavirus death count. Instead, it reassigned deaths previously counted toward a municipality to the nursing homes where those people lived.

In the letter, addressed to acting U.S. Attorney General Robert “Monty” M. Wilkinson, the seven House representatives argue James’ report exposes how Cuomo and his staff “recklessly and knowingly” underreported deaths in nursing homes across the state after his decision in March of last year to require nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.

They request that Wilkinson issue subpoenas to Cuomo, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, state Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker and staff for all three officials.

The Republican House representatives in August of last year pushed for the U.S. Department of Justice, then controlled by Attorney General William P. Barr under former President Donald J. Trump, to investigate the state’s nursing home policy. In their letter, they also requested an “immediate and thorough” update on that probe.

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, was a lead signer of Wednesday’s letter.

The congresswoman has been a vocal critic of Cuomo throughout the pandemic, and has criticized him repeatedly over the state’s nursing home policies during the crisis.

“We will work to ensure that Acting Attorney General Wilkinson and President Biden support this pursuit for the truth about Governor Cuomo and his administration, considering the scathing evidence presented in Attorney General James’ recent report,” Stefanik said in a prepared statement. “Tens of thousands of innocent people in our great state died, and unlike the Governor, we care.”

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