Federal prosecutors subpoenaed communications related to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic memoir as part of their investigation into coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The subpoenas were issued by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, for communications, contracts, and materials related to Cuomo’s book “American Crisis.”
The subpoenas suggest that prosecutors are particularly interested in issues related to nursing homes in the book.
New York’s attorney general said earlier this year that Cuomo’s office dramatically undercounted the number of deaths of nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny after Cuomo issued a directive requiring nursing facilities to accept infected coronavirus patients.
The subpoenas were issued last month to those who were involved in editing early versions of the book. Cuomo currently faces a state investigation into whether he misused staff and state resources to work on his book.
What are prosecutors searching for?
The report suggested that prosecutors are interested in Cuomo’s work related to nursing homes early in the pandemic, former federal prosecutor Michael Weinstein told WSJ.
“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,” he said.
The subpoenas stem from the DOJ’s investigation into whether the state violated federal law by reporting false death data to the government.
The investigation is also looking at a provision Cuomo’s office inserted into a state budget granting criminal immunity to nursing home operators and whether the state gave priority access to coronavirus testing to people close to Cuomo.
Cuomo defended order in book:
Cuomo defended his order to require nursing homes to accept coronavirus patients, arguing that it was necessary to preserve hospital capacity and in line with federal guidelines.
The state quickly worked to ramp up hospital capacity when the pandemic struck but ultimately did not have to use most of it.
But during a meeting with New York lawmakers, Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa said the state delayed the release of nursing home death data because they were afraid it would be politicized by Trump’s Justice Department.
The DOJ launched its investigation in response to the meeting, which took place on February 10.