EXCLUSIVE: Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are urging Democratic chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney to subpoena New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to testify before the panel on nursing home COVID-19 deaths in the state. 

Fox News exclusively obtained a letter committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., and all Republicans on the panel sent to Maloney, D-N.Y., demanding that the committee “hear the truth, under oath, directly from Governor Cuomo.” 

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Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James said nursing home COVID-19 deaths in the state were undercounted by as much as 50%. And things escalated after a report that a top aide to Cuomo told leading state Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny.

Last year, Cuomo directed nursing homes in the state to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19. The decision created an onslaught of COVID-19 cases that infected thousands of elderly patients and resulted in hundreds of deaths among the state’s most vulnerable population. 

Comer and Republicans said that Cuomo and his administration “engaged in a cover-up effecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19,” and demanded that Maloney “immediately notice a full committee hearing with Governor Cuomo as the sole witness.” 

“Additionally, we formally request a thorough investigation by the Oversight Committee,” they wrote. “We owe it to the thousands of families who lost loved ones because of Governor Cuomo’s alleged recklessness.” 

Comer and Republicans noted that GOP members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis demanded “accountability and transparency” while “blowing the whistle” on Cuomo’s actions, requesting in June nursing home and fatality data from Cuomo—a request Democrats declined. They noted that since then, Republicans on the select subcommittee have sent three subsequent document requests to Cuomo—all of which have been “ignored.” 

“Today, we respectfully request that you subpoena the documents, information, and communications previously requested by the Select Subcommittee Republicans,” they wrote, saying that for nearly ten months, Cuomo has “been actively obstructing Congress’ access to this information.” 

“Additionally, we request that you issue a subpoena for Governor Cuomo’s testimony before the full Oversight Committee,” they wrote. “The governor has a documented track record of misleading the public about his lethal March 25 order, including orchestrating a cover-up to conceal the truth from the New York State Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and, possibly, the U.S. Department of Justice.” 

They added: “The only way to bring the truth to light and inform future public health decisions is to conduct a full investigation of Governor Cuomo’s actions.” 

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In a statement to Fox News, Comer said that Cuomo “ordered contagious patients into nursing homes lied about it, tried to cover up the data, and now is threatening anyone who crosses him.” 

“For almost ten months, Governor Cuomo has actively obstructed Congress’ access to information about the nursing home death toll and it’s past time for the House Oversight Committee to compel his testimony before Congress to bring truth to light,” Comer said. 

He added: “We owe it to the thousands of families who lost loved ones to hold accountable anyone whose reckless policies may have contributed to their deaths.” 

Jody Hice, Jim Jordan, Andy Biggs, Glenn Grothman, Michael Cloud, Ralph Norman, Pete Sessions, Paul Gosar, Virginia Foxx, Bob Gibbs, Clay Higgins, Fred Keller, Andrew Clyde, Nancy Mace, Scott Franklin, Jake LaTurner, Pat Fallon, Yvette Herrell, and Byron Donalds–all Republican members on the committee–signed onto Comer’s letter. 

The letter to Maloney comes as the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn are believed to have begun an investigation into how the Cuomo administration handled the state’s nursing home crisis during the pandemic.

The investigation is not yet far along and is focused on top members of Cuomo’s coronavirus task force, the Albany Times-Union reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter. Neither Cuomo nor any administration official has at this point been accused of any wrongdoing.

Members of Cuomo’s task force include New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa. The latter drew scrutiny this month after she seemingly admitted the governor’s team withheld information related to COVID-19-related deaths at nursing homes.

“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to,” Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi said in a statement.

It is not clear whether Azzopardi’s statement refers to the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s probe, which the Times-Union describes as “in its early stages.” Azzopardi’s statement did not specify whether Cuomo’s office was in touch with FBI or US Attorney officials regarding a fresh investigation.

The letter also comes after Republicans in the New York State Assembly announced last week that they will form an impeachment commission to “gather facts and evidence” surrounding Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state. 

The inquiries and investigations were spurred by James’ report, released last month, which revealed that, as of Jan. 27, 2021, there were 5,597 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 in nursing homes and an additional 2,783 presumed deaths. In assisted care facilities, there were 160 deaths and 52 presumed deaths.

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James’ report said government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.

Cuomo has defended the nursing home policy as in line with guidance from the Trump administration at the time.

James’ report said government guidance requiring the admission of COVID-19 patients into nursing homes may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) asked 62 nursing homes to provide data about deaths in their facilities. 

The report, which revealed the findings of an investigation into allegations of patient neglect and other “concerning conduct” that jeopardized the health and safety of both patients and employees, said that some facilities failed to comply with health protocols to stop the spread of the virus. 

Nursing homes that had low U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Staffing ratings were found to have higher COVID-19 fatality rates. 

In addition, lack of sufficient personal protective equipment for staff, as well as low availability of testing, could have also increased the patients’ risk of contracting the virus, the report said. 

About 70% of the nearly 35,000 COVID deaths in New York were people aged 70 and older, according to state data as of Jan. 28.

Investigations into more than 20 nursing homes whose reported conduct during the first wave of the pandemic presented particular concern are still ongoing, James added.

“As the pandemic and our investigations continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate,” James said in a statement. “While we cannot bring back the individuals we lost to this crisis, this report seeks to offer transparency that the public deserves and to spur increased action to protect our most vulnerable residents.”



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