Melissa DeRosa, an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, has admitted that, in an attempt to cover up evidence that might put Cuomo’s administration in trouble with the Department of Justice, the administration withheld the true New York toll of nursing home deaths due to the Wuhan coronavirus. She reportedly told New York Democrats that “we froze” out of fear that the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors.
This sounds like an admission to one or more federal crimes.
18 U.S. Code § 1505 provides:
Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States. . .shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years. . .or both.
I think that’s what DeRosa said the Cuomo administration did.
18 U.S. Code § 1001(a) provides:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1)falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact. . .shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years. . .or both.
This provision, too, seems to be in play.
18 U.S. Code § 371 provides:
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
From what DeRosa has admitted, it sounds like the Cuomo administration’s attempt to conceal the coronavirus nursing home death numbers from the DOJ involved two or more people. Thus, 18 U.S. Code § 371 seems also to apply.
In this post, I discussed and quoted from the letter Eric Dreiband, then Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, sent to Cuomo and three other governors last August requesting information about nursing home deaths. Eric’s letter was clear as to the information being requested. Among other things, he sought:
The number of Public Nursing Home residents, employees, other staff, guests, and visitors who died of COVID-19 including those who died in a Public Nursing Home or after being transferred to a hospital or other medical facility, hospice, home care, or any other location.
It is this number that, according to DeRosa, Team Cuomo tried to conceal from the DOJ for political reasons. Unfortunately for the Cuomo gang, there is no political exception to the obligation under federal criminal law not to impede or trick one’s way around federal investigations.
Melissa DeRosa’s admission cries out for an investigation into whether she and others in the Cuomo administration, including the governor, violated federal criminal law. Fortunately for the Cuomo gang, Joe Biden now controls the Justice Department. It’s likely, I think, that it will decline to take any action in response to the Cuomo administration’s attempt to foil a legitimate Justice Department investigation.
It might be a good idea for Senate Republicans to ask Merrick Garland about this at his confirmation hearing later this month. Not that there’s much chance Garland will answer forthrightly. Or that his DOJ will remotely be serious about enforcing our laws against bigtime Democrats.
By contrast, New York’s far left attorney general, Letitia James, may be interested in prosecuting Cuomo, whom she might decide to challenge in a primary, or members of his staff. However, I don’t know that James is in a position to do so or whether, if so, she would be that bold.