Why Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Ouster Was Triggered by Sex Probe Instead of Damning Nursing Home Scandal
On 10 August, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo abruptly announced his resignation over NYS Attorney General Letitia James’ report implicating him in sexual abuse, despite vehemently denying the allegations just days ago.
According to the Associated Press, the last straw forcing Cuomo to resign was the State Assembly's impeachment investigation into the governor's conduct. The probe revolved around three major issues: first, sexual harassment allegations; second, misleading the public about the COVID-19 death toll at nursing homes; and third, using state resources and staff for his $5 million book deal.
On 6 August, NYS lawmakers announced that their probe was nearing completion and gave Cuomo a deadline of 13 August to provide additional information with regard to the investigation. Cuomo’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, responded in a statement that the governor would cooperate with the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
However, earlier this week Cuomo signalled that he would step down, explaining that the impeachment process would take months and consume resources that should go toward “managing COVID, guarding against the delta variant, reopening upstate, fighting gun violence and saving New York City”, according to the AP. On 13 August, NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stated that the impeachment inquiry against the outgoing governor would be dropped.
Letitia James & Andrew Cuomo's Political Demise
"The report from the Attorney General and the reaction from New York State and National politicians as well as New York residents made it clear Andrew Cuomo was not going to move forward", says Jason Goodman, an American investigative journalist and founder of Crowdsource the Truth. "While it was not quite a political checkmate, New York AG Letitia James definitely made it clear to Cuomo and the public just how vulnerable the Governor was to the wrath of the woke left".
The clouds have been gathering on Cuomo's horizon for quite a while. Initially, it was a nursing home scandal that dragged Cuomo's governorship into controversy. On 28 January 2021, AG James released a 76-page report revealing that New York’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 was apparently over 50 percent higher than officials had claimed due to the Cuomo administration failing to reveal how many of those residents died in hospitals.
The explosive report also pointed out that at least 4,000 residents died after the governor issued a 25 March 2020 mandate for nursing homes to admit "medically stable" coronavirus patients which "may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities", according to the NYS attorney general.
Less than two weeks after the report's release, the New York Post broke
that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had privately told Democratic lawmakers that the state withheld its nursing home COVID-19 death toll out of fear that Donald Trump's DoJ would use it against them. According to the media outlet, about 15,000 long-term care home residents have died of COVID-19 in the state since the start of the pandemic, while just 8,500 deaths were disclosed by the Cuomo administration. In response, the governor defended delaying the release of the data and denounced cover-up allegations as "misinformation and conspiracy".
However, ABC News revealed on 18 February 2021 that the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had started investigating Cuomo's coronavirus task force "with a particular focus on his administration's handling of nursing homes early in the coronavirus pandemic".
Pouring more gasoline on the fire, on 28 February, AG James launched a new probe into Cuomo's alleged sexual misbehaviour following allegations brought forward by the governor's former aides Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett
as well as some other women.
'Clearing of the Field of Powerful Challengers'?
AG James' aggressive investigation of the NYS governor, largely supported by New York's Democratic lawmakers and the press, triggers suspicions that some Democrats sought to get rid of Cuomo, according to observers. The NYS governor used to be a media darling under President Donald Trump and played a role of the president's antipode holding regular COVID press-conferences much endorsed by the Dems.
"Corporate-owned media and social media were desperate to remove President Trump so they portrayed Governor Cuomo as a hero for his efforts and his press briefings, all the while scolding Trump and his team at full blast," points out Charles Ortel.
What happened next seems to be more like "a clearing of the field of powerful challengers", according to Goodman.
"Cuomo was useful when the façade of Democrat competence and the EMMY Award winning governor’s endorsement helped elect Biden", he says. "Now, however, having Cuomo as a contender for higher office in 2024 is obviously not what those at the top seek".
Sexual Harassment Scandal Vs. Nursing Home Controversy
But why did the sexual harassment scandal, which appears in many respects to be less damning than Cuomo's "deadly" COVID mandate for nursing homes and alleged manipulation of data, become the main trigger for the NY governor's ouster?
Some conservative commentators assume that Cuomo's sex scandal was deliberately fanned to distract the public opinion from the nursing home controversy. "This is a reasonable working theory that I hope does not end up working", agrees Ortel.
Furthermore, it appears that the Democratic Party continues to approve of the New York governor's "grossly negligent" COVID pandemic policies, Goodman believes, referring to Joe Biden's recent remark that Cuomo "did a hell of a job" as governor. This sounds especially ironic given that Cuomo's handling of COVID resulted in many deaths of Biden's "fellow septuagenarians", according to the founder of Crowdsource the Truth.
Undoubtedly, a protracted prosecution would uncover facts, evidence, and witness testimony that would shatter the Democratic leadership's narrative and call many aspects of the COVID-19 response into question, Goodman deems.
"New York was dubbed the 'epicentre' in March 2020", he says. "This hype was fuelled by The New York Times under former BBC Director General Mark Thompson. The Times presented obvious lies from New York Health and Hospitals’ deceptive simulation expert Dr Colleen Smith, among others. Smith was active on social media promoting Cuomo’s agenda which funnelled money and resources to state run hospitals".
Furthermore, Gov. Cuomo is not the only Democratic governor mired by nursing home scandals. On 26 August 2020, four states with Democratic governors – New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania – were subjected to scrutiny
by the US Justice Department over "orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents"
It appears, however, that Biden's DoJ has seemingly swept the nursing home probe
launched by the Trump administration under the rug.
Thus, on 11 February 2021, the New York Post quoted
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, as saying that the DoJ is no longer looking at New York’s nursing home deaths and had "dropped" the investigation. Similarly, on 22 July 2021, the DoJ informed Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office that it would not pursue an investigation into the governor's nursing home COVID-19 orders, according
to the Detroit Free Press. Likewise, at some point the US mainstream press sidelined the Cuomo nursing home scandal and focused on his sexual misbehaviour.
If Biden's DoJ had doubled down on investigating Cuomo's nursing home COVID orders and handling of the pandemic, that could have backfired on the other Democratic governors
, who apparently emulated some of his approaches, and then could have hurt the Democratic Party, according to the journalist.
"This is prison yard politics, knock out the biggest guy and everyone else falls in line", Goodman says. "We should also not forget that until very recently Andrew Cuomo was the chair of the National Governors Association and would have had direct communication and even some degree of authority over the other Democrat governors".
The Wall Street analyst shares this stance: according to Ortel, "expanding nursing home death probes beyond New York will be likely dangerous politically" for the Democrats.
Meanwhile, judging from the Associated Press' 12 August report
, the federal investigation into NY nursing homes mentioned by ABC News in February 2021 is still going on.
What's Next for Andrew Cuomo?
Is Andrew Cuomo's political career over?
"History shows us that New York Governors who exit in disgrace along the lines of Elliot Spitzer do not recover from a political standpoint", says Goodman, not ruling out that former governor Cuomo will join his younger brother by launching a media career.
While the Wall Street analyst largely agrees with this stance, he refers to instances when Democratic politicians have managed to get away with sexual harassment cases.
"While events in 2020 prove that defective candidates who run horrible national campaigns can, in theory, win elections, few big money Democrats will continue to embrace [Andrew] Cuomo", Ortel suggests. "And that is now, before Tara Reade, who credibly accuses Joe Biden of improper sexual abuse in the workplace, gets a fair hearing and a thorough investigation".