Amid the unfolding crisis for New York seniors after a deadly state executive order was issued in March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo flew to Washington D.C. to demand then-President Donald Trump fire an official seeking to expose the scandal, according to the official himself, Michael Caputo.
Michael Caputo tells OANN: “Cuomo flew to DC in late May 2020 and told Trump to fire him for publicly criticizing his nursing home policy,” OANN’s Jack Posobiec tweeted. “Caputo was an HHS official working to track nursing home deaths.”
In May 2020, the New York Post reported that Trump aide Caputo, then assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had been severely criticizing the Cuomo administration for its lack of transparency on the nursing home data issue.
“A Trump administration official pushed back at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for trying to shift blame to the White House over the state’s own policies that may have led to more than 5,000 coronavirus-related fatalities,” the Post reported.
“Leadership is about good and sound judgment,” Caputo said. “Governor Cuomo exercised misguided leadership. He’s responsible for this nursing home problem, and the deaths are on his hands,” Caputo told The Post.
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“It’s a betrayal of trust. Instead of being transparent, he’s shifting blame. If there’s a category for blame-shifting, Cuomo should get an Oscar,” Caputo added.
A recent Fox News story on the Cuomo scandal has listed those the New York Governor has blamed for the nursing home deaths, which are now believed to be 40% higher than the Cuomo administration earlier divulged. Among those blamed: The nursing homes, nursing home visitors, the CDC, the New York Post, a ‘toxic political environment,’ Donald Trump and Michael Caputo.
“Where this starts is frankly a political attack from the prior federal administration and HHS… Michael Caputo,” Cuomo claimed.
Michael Caputo issued a blistering statement refuting the accusation.
“Early on, experts at the Health and Human Services administration identified Cuomo’s foolish executive order as a primary cause for thousands of nursing home COVID deaths in New York,” he said. “He’s right, I called him out on it immediately… Cuomo is personally responsible for thousands of unnecessary nursing home deaths and he must be held accountable.”
New York lawmakers are now working on way to partially rectify the immediate situation by crafting a bill to strip Cuomo of his “emergency powers,” as reported by the New York Times.
“I believe they should be taken away, hopefully sooner than later,” State Senator Gustavo Rivera said on Wednesday. “We need to remind them that state government is not one big branch: There’s three of them,” he said.
It should be noted that the legislative process could have been respected in New York at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. It may have prevented the deadly executive orders and mismanagement by the Cuomo administration.
The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn have launched an investigation that is examining, at least in part, the actions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s coronavirus task force in its handling of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the pandemic, the Times Union has learned.
“The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is apparently in its early stages and is focusing on the work of some of the senior members of the governor’s task force, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who is not authorized to comment publicly,” the report continued.
The Cuomo administration has responded to reports that its mishandling of nursing home residents due to a March 2020 order that returned COVID-positive patients to their long-term care facilities was under Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation.
“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months,” said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesperson for Governor Cuomo. “We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.”
The Times notes that: “Azzopardi did not disclose whether any members of the administration have been interviewed or if they have been served with any subpoenas.”
In late January, the Cuomo cover-up was exposed by his own Attorney General Letitia James. The dam burst open in February when the New York Post obtained a leak from Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa that indicates his motive for hiding data that showed nursing home resident mortality rates were 40% higher than reported was to avoid scrutiny from the Trump DOJ.
On Tuesday, Cuomo was accused of “obstruction of justice” by nine Democratic lawmakers in the state assembly.
“Nine Democratic members of the New York State Assembly… accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of federal obstruction of justice in a letter seeking support to strip him of his COVID-19 emergency powers,” the New York Post reported.
“It is now unambiguously clear that this governor has engaged in an intentional obstruction of justice, as outlined in Title 18, Chapter 73 of the United States Code,” the letter stated.
“In response to this criminal use of power, Assemblymember Ron Kim and Senator [Alessandra] Biaggi are introducing a bill to repeal the amendments to the Executive Law that were passed by the Legislature one year ago…that expanded the Governor’s authority to unilaterally suspend entire state statutes in response to an impending state emergency,” Kim and other lawmakers wrote.
“This is a necessary first step in beginning to right the criminal wrongs of this Governor and his administration.”
Kim said in an interview with the Post he believed “Cuomo had violated the section of federal law that covers ‘obstruction of criminal investigations of health care offenses.’”
“That crime carries a maximum five-year prison sentence,” the Post notes.
Janice Dean, Senior Meteorologist at Fox News and a fierce critic of Cuomo, reported that there is no public evidence that the New York governor has turned over documents to the Department of Justice as had been requested.
“Cuomo and his administration did not give anything to the DOJ,” Dean reported. “I spoke to a senior official in December who told me they gave them nothing. Show me receipts [New York Governor Cuomo] of your correspondence.”
Various state Democratic lawmakers are also engaged in a feud with Andrew Cuomo. Ron Kim alleges Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him in a recent phone call.
“New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday of threatening to ‘destroy’ Kim’s career in retaliation for Kim criticizing Cuomo’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes, marking the latest scandal for the embattled governor,” Forbes reported.
Andrew Cuomo fired back at Kim for the allegations in a Wednesday press conference.
“Facing mounting criticism over his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo spent more than twenty minutes of his press briefing Wednesday publicly lashing out at a state lawmaker who had faulted him for mishandling the crisis,” the Gothamist reported.
“If you attack my integrity and my administration’s integrity, am I going to fail to respond? No. No,” Cuomo railed. The New York governor proceeded to allege Kim had engaged in a scandal of his own, which was purportedly related to a 2015 report about his vote change on a bill impacting Queens nail salon owners.
On Monday, Cuomo gave a press conference that drew heated condemnation from media observers for numerous misleading statements. The New York governor is now in full crisis PR mode as both the media, and now law enforcement, are reported to be increasing their scrutiny.
Andrew Cuomo is now facing intense pressure from New York Democrats, as well as a fierce public backlash that includes threats of impeachment. Governor Cuomo, ironically, had recently called for Trump’s impeachment.
“President Trump should resign… If he doesn’t resign, I believe he should be impeached,” he said.
Life comes at you fast, Mr. Cuomo.