Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ignored an invitation to testify Wednesday at a congressional hearing focused on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the coronavirus last week publicly asked Cuomo to appear to answer questions about his 2020 order requiring nursing homes to take coronavirus-positive patients.
“We asked him to testify at this very hearing and he still to this day has not even responded,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who tweeted a letter addressed to Cuomo asking him to appear.
“He’s not participating,” Scalise said. “He didn’t even feel that he owed those victims a response to the questions we had for him.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) told The Post that Republicans intend to use subpoena powers to investigate Cuomo’s order and his administration’s admitted subsequent coverup of death statistics if the GOP retakes the House in the November midterm elections.
“Corrupt Andrew Cuomo failed to show up and answer our requests for transparency and accountability on behalf of the families who lost their loved ones due to his deadly nursing home order and criminal cover up,” the No. 3 House Republican told The Post.
“He cannot hide from the truth. We know Cuomo and Gov. [Kathy] Hochul are to blame for the deaths of over 15,000 New Yorkers.”
Stefanik added, “Subpoenas are coming in a Republican majority.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi insisted the invitation was lost in the mail.
“Scalise should learn to use [the] Postal Service because we never received the letter,” Azzopardi said before turning his response into. rant against Republicans and former President Donald Trump, as Cuomo so often did when he was still in office.
“It’s sad that these MAGA Republicans continue to weaponize the pain of those who lost loved ones and picked up the baton of discredited Trump seditionist [and former Justice Department official] Jeffrey Clark who was charged with using DOJ to go after blue states on nursing home pandemic policy before being tasked with overturning an election,” he added.
The ex-governor resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal and probes of his handling of nursing homes and other COVID-19 issues in August 2021.
As the coronavirus pandemic began in the US, Cuomo on March 25, 2020, barred nursing homes from turning away patients “solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19,” which the families of victims say caused the deaths of vulnerable residents.
Cuomo’s order, in effect for less than two months, was intended to ease hospital crowding. Critics say it instead caused unnecessary deaths as federal treatment facilities unveiled with great fanfare by then-President Trump were closed due to too few patients.
The Justice Department later in 2020 investigated whether New York violated the federal civil rights of nursing home patients and whether facilities provided “grossly substandard care.”
The Post revealed last year that Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa confessed to Democratic legislators that the administration decided to conceal nursing home death statistics because “we froze” out of fear that the data would “be used against us” by prosecutors.
Federal investigations apparently were discontinued after President Biden took office and replaced Trump administration leaders at the Justice Department.
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, last year said there were about 50 percent more nursing home patient deaths than reported by Cuomo’s administration. Her report indicated almost one-third of New York’s more than 43,000 COVID-19 deaths at the time were linked to nursing homes.
The James-led investigation concluded that more than 13,000 New York nursing home patients may have died from the virus — much higher than the official state count of 8,711 deaths. Before James released her findings, an Associated Press analysis in August 2020 found 11,000 New York nursing home residents may have died.
A book released last month by former White House adviser Jared Kushner said that Cuomo specifically mentioned his concern about nursing home safety 10 days before ordering homes to take sick patients.
Cuomo allegedly told Kushner, “For nursing homes, this could be like fire through dry grass,” before proceeding to issue the controversial order the following week.