Merrick Garland Promises DOJ Cuomo Nursing Home Investigation Will Avoid Conflicts of Interest


Prosecutor General candidate Merrick Garland pledged Monday that the Justice Department would avoid conflicts of interest in any investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the state’s nursing home crisis during the California pandemic. coronavirus.

The United States Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York is reportedly in the early stages of an investigation into the Cuomo administration. The investigation, first reported by the Albany Times-Union, is said to focus on members of the Cuomo coronavirus task force, which includes Governor Secretary Melissa DeRosa.

DeRosa is the senior assistant to the Cuomo administration who admitted his office withheld data on nursing home deaths for fear it could be used in a federal investigation. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pressed Garland on the situation during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, noting that Audrey Strauss, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is DeRosa’s mother-in-law.

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“In this case, the acting federal prosecutor is the mother-in-law of the senior Cuomo administration official who admitted the cover-up,” Cruz said. “Will you at least commit that a person with a conflict of interest will not conduct the investigation?”

“Of course,” Garland replied. “I am not aware of any of the facts, but I can guarantee that a person with a conflict of interest will not be the person leading an investigation of any kind.”

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Few details have emerged about the Justice Department’s investigation into the Cuomo administration. Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said his administration is cooperating with federal officials.

Given that the case is reportedly led by US Attorney Seth DuCharme of the Eastern District of New York, it is unclear what role, if any, the Southern District will have in the investigation. When asked about the case, Garland declined to elaborate.

“With all these investigations, the Department of Justice is open to evidence of fraud, false statements, violations of the law,” Garland said of the case. “Normally they start in the proper way, in the corresponding Federal Prosecutor’s Office. That’s the way it is, without commenting on this in particular because I don’t know the facts.

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Critics have focused on Cuomo’s implementation of a March 25 order asking nursing homes to accept recovering COVID-19 patients into their facilities. In response to the criticism, Cuomo has said the order was made in accordance with federal guidelines at the time and was not a significant factor in the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that New York reported significantly fewer deaths from COVID-19 that occurred in its nursing facilities. Cuomo acknowledged that it was a “mistake” not to report the data earlier, but maintained that all data was reported accurately.

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