After accusing Cuomo’s administration of trying to cover up statistics related to nursing home deaths during the pandemic, the Republican Lawler said that the governor should lose emergency powers and face an investigation.
“It’s very clear, number one, that the legislature needs to return this week and revoke the governor’s emergency executive powers that they granted him last March. We need to reign in this governor and return as a coequal branch of government,” Lawler told “Fox & Friends First” Monday morning. “Number two, I believe very strongly we need to convene a joint hearing between both houses of the legislature and start issuing subpoenas to the governor, his staff, the commissioner of the Department of Health, and really dig into all of the information and get some level of justice and accountability for the victims of this public policy decision that resulted in the deaths of thousands upon thousands of nursing home patients.”
Finally, Lawler said, “there needs to be a criminal investigation by the attorney general.”
Cuomo’s office did not respond to Fox News’ request for a response to Lawler’s remarks.
Lawler had previously called for a criminal probe into what he described as “the Cuomo administration’s cover-up of nursing homes deaths,” after Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa admitted to Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld statistics about nursing home deaths from the Department of Justice.
FILE — In this Jan. 18, 2017 file photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by his chief of staff Melissa DeRosa, walks to talk with members of the media after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York. De Rosa, Cuomo’s top aide, told top Democrats frustrated with the administration’s long-delayed release of data about nursing home deaths that the administration "froze" over worries about what information was "going to be used against us," according to a Democratic lawmaker who attended the Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 meeting and a partial transcript provided by the governor’s office. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) ((AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File))
“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa told the lawmakers, according to a partial transcript of the call released Friday by Cuomo’s office and reviewed by Fox News.
That same day, DeRosa sought to clarify her comments, saying she was “explaining that when we received the DOJ inquiry, we needed to temporarily set aside the Legislature’s request to deal with the federal request first.”
After Cuomo’s office released the partial transcript, Lawler demanded that they release the entire thing, as well as any recording they have.
“Given that this administration has spent the last many months covering up one of the biggest scandals in New York State history, they have an obligation to release this tape,” Lawler said.
The Justice Department had been seeking details of the number of coronavirus casualties from nursing homes after the state only released statistics regarding those who died in the nursing home building, not counting any who died at hospitals or elsewhere.
A report from New York Attorney General Letitia James in late January said the state Department of Health underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%.
Lawler also said that any federal investigation should be conducted by a special counsel, after it was reported by the New York Post that Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss is DeRosa’s mother-in-law.
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.