GOP lawmakers send Andrew Cuomo subpoena over COVID policies

  • Former New York Gov. Cuomo has been criticized for state's COVID response
  • Lawmakers say he hasn't responded to their requests for info
  • Cuomo previously said there was no 'cover-up' in death toll reporting
FILE - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to board a helicopter after announcing his resignation, Aug. 10, 2021, in New York. On Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, the U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with the state of New York to resolve a sexual harassment investigation of former Gov. Cuomo, confirming allegations from the damaging misconduct probe that led to the Democrat's resignation. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

FILE – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares to board a helicopter after announcing his resignation, Aug. 10, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(NewsNation) — A House committee led by Republicans issued a subpoena Tuesday to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking him to provide a deposition on his COVID-19 policies, according to a letter obtained by NewsNation.

The subpoena, sent by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Response and signed by GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, asks Cuomo to give a deposition on May 24.

Specifically, lawmakers are asking for information on his COVID policies as they relate to nursing homes during the early days of the pandemic.

Cuomo left office in 2021 after a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded he sexually harassed at least 11 women, which he has denied.

When it comes to the pandemic, critics have said Cuomo understated the true death toll in nursing homes by thousands, with fatalities fueled by a state order that effectively forced such places to accept recovering COVID-19 patients.

A Cuomo spokesperson, meanwhile, called what lawmakers are doing an “obvious press charade.”

“New York followed the guidance put forth by the Trump administration in March of 2020 — as did other Democratic and Republican states,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “If they have a problem with that, they should look in the mirror. Congress knows this, but it’s not about the facts, this is about politics.”

Azzopardi said Republicans, instead of concentrating on issues like aid for Ukraine, are “playing politics” with COVID and weaponizing people’s pain.

“Congress is officially a circus and they are nothing but clowns,” Azzopardi said.

Committee members say there’s “troubling evidence suggesting the Cuomo administration at best downplayed (the order’s) impacts and at worst covered them up.”

On July 6, 2020, the New York State Department of Health released a report about COVID in nursing homes that most fatalities happened because of infected staff, although lawmakers in their letter said this report was “far from impartial.”

“Indeed, according to the New York impeachment investigation, your office edited the report with the intention of suppressing your and the March 25 Order’s involvement in nursing home fatalities,” the letter said.

Another aspect of Cuomo’s COVID response representatives took issue with was a report by James that said nursing home deaths in New York were undercounted by as much as 50%.

During what they said was an “emotional” press conference, CBS New York reported in 2021 that Cuomo said there was no cover-up of information. Instead, the then-governor said there had been an “information” void as he prioritized getting details to the federal Department of Justice instead of the state legislature and public.

“The void allowed misinformation and conspiracy and now people are left with the thought of ‘Did my loved one have to die?'” Cuomo said. “I want everyone to know everything was done, everything was done, by the best minds in the best interest.”

Committee members say they’ve asked Cuomo to come talk to them voluntarily, but claim he has not cooperated.

“Your testimony is vital to our investigation into the effectiveness of federal guidance and regulations implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic regarding the protection of nursing home residents,” lawmakers wrote to Cuomo. “Further, this investigation may inform legislation to enhance the federal scientific guidance process.”

In a statement to NewsNation, Azzopardi pushed back on the idea that the former governor has not made himself available to lawmakers.

“This is on them, not us,” Azzopardi said.

Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney, said in a letter to the committee shared with NewsNation that Cuomo offered multiple dates for a transcribed interview, and that he “remains cooperative.”

“If the four dates we proposed in August for his interview do not work for the Select
Subcommittee, we are willing to discuss alternative dates,” Glavin said. “I simply ask that we work together to accommodate his legal obligations and my other professional obligations.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

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