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The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed material related to a memoir that Democratic governor of New York Andrew Cuomo authored during the pandemic as part of an investigation into COVID deaths in the state’s nursing homes, people familiar with the situation said.
The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York requested communications associated with Cuomo’s book, American Crisis, the newspaper’s sources said. Such materials included contracts and documents used during the pitching process to publishers. The people familiar with the case suggested that the subpoenas were issued because prosecutors wanted to probe the details of the nursing home debacle discussed the memoir.
State officials who assisted with editing early versions of Cuomo’s book were among the individuals who received subpoenas for materials, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Republican legislators have accused the Cuomo administration of intentionally manipulating and obscuring the COVID fatality data, intentionally undercounting thousands of deaths, in New York’s assisted-living facilities in an attempt to shield the governor from political criticism.
In February, federal prosecutors initiated a criminal investigation into the governor’s alleged mismanagement of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic and lockdowns. A January report from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James suggested that nursing-home deaths were potentially undercounted by as much as half.
In his book, Cuomo defended a March directive that prohibited nursing homes from denying entry to residents just because they tested positive for COVID. Some lawmakers have claimed that the order contributed to the high mortality rate among New York assisted-care facilities. Cuomo insisted in the memoir that the order was necessary to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with patients and strapped for resources.
The news of the subpoena comes after it was discovered that Cuomo’s book, which covered New York’s response to the COVID crisis, was positioned to earn $5.1 million, according to documents disclosed by his office last month in May. Cuomo reportedly secured $3.21 million in 2020, and he is set to receive an additional $2 million to be paid out over the next two years, state officials told the New York Times.
Another inquiry was opened in April to determine whether Cuomo unlawfully abused state resources, including staffers, to draft and promote the book after State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli sent a formal referral letter to James saying that the evidence warranted a criminal investigation.
In addition to a scandal involving sexual harassment in the work place, Cuomo now confronts four federal inquiries.