The letter, written by outside attorney Elkan Abramowitz, pertains to "Grand Jury Investigation, F. #2021R00167," and asks federal investigators to drop a criminal inquiry into the Cuomo administration's suppression of nursing home death data attributable to COVID-19.
In arguing that New York has the ability to police such matters, the attorney's July letter stated that the Executive Chamber had received “subpoenas from the New York attorney general (regarding the governor’s book and priority COVID testing), the Manhattan district attorney’s office (regarding nursing homes), the New York State Assembly (regarding an impeachment investigation), and the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (regarding priority testing and the governor’s book)."
It had not been previously confirmed by Cuomo's office that JCOPE was investigating priority COVID testing or Cuomo's book, “American Crisis;” that the Manhattan district attorney's office was investigating Cuomo policies related to nursing homes; or that James' office was investigating the priority COVID testing.
On the priority COVID testing issue, James' office said in March it did not have jurisdiction, and asked JCOPE to investigate instead. James' office did not respond to a request for comment from the Times Union on Tuesday.
The New York Law Journal had previously reported on a state Department of Health legal contract, which referenced an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney's office related to the administration's COVID-19 response. But the specific topic was not clear; Abramowitz's letter says the topic was nursing homes.
Concerning JCOPE, an agency spokesman previously confirmed to the Times Union that the agency was investigating issues related to priority COVID testing, but did not specifically say the investigation pertained to Cuomo, or that a subpoena had been issued.
JCOPE officials have never explicitly stated they're investigating Cuomo's book deal, or that they'd issued a subpoena to Cuomo's office. Such an investigation has been obliquely referenced during public sessions of meetings, as commissioners have debated whether to rescind JCOPE staff’s approval allowing Cuomo to write "American Crisis," a book recounting his early handling of the pandemic.
In his letter, Abramowitz argues that the federal inquiry was begun by a politically motivated Trump administration; that the Cuomo administration's decision not to include hospitals mortalities (when infections had begun at a nursing home) in the overall nursing home tally was appropriate; and that it was a discretionary public policy decision, allowable for a state government.aside">