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Press Release Published: Jun 12, 2024

Wenstrup Issues Statement, Readout Following Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Transcribed Interview

WASHINGTON — Today, Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) led a closed-door, transcribed interview of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The seven-hour testimony centered on Mr. Cuomo’s issuance of deadly guidance that forced New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities to admit contagious COVID-19 patients. Today’s interview was the first time the former governor has testified before Congress regarding his Administration’s failed pandemic response. Members of both the majority and minority held the former governor accountable for numerous pandemic-era policy failures that were unique to New York.

Ahead of today’s testimony, the Select Subcommittee conducted transcribed interviews with six high-ranking Cuomo Administration officials — including the former New York Health Department Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker. Next week, the Select Subcommittee will interview Mr. Cuomo’s former chief-of-staff, Melissa DeRosa.

Readout from former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s transcribed interview:

  • Mr. Cuomo claims to have been unaware of the existence of the disastrous March 25, 2020 nursing home order until a press conference on April 20, 2020.
    • As the Governor of New York, he was responsible for directives issued by the New York State Department of Health. Either the former governor is rewriting history, or he was unaware as to what was happening under his leadership.
  • Mr. Cuomo repeatedly deflected responsibility for issuing the nursing home directive.
    • He testified that nursing homes had an “out,” and the “must-admit” language mandated by the state did not actually force nursing homes to admit COVID positive patients.
  • When pressed to explain the discrepancy between the reported death count and the true mortality rate, Mr. Cuomo was shockingly callous — testifying “6500 or 9000…who cares, what difference does it make?”
    • Thousands of American families lost their loved ones in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. They deserve recognition and answers.
  • Mr. Cuomo testified that he only regretted the March 25, 2020, order so far as nursing homes were “confused by it.”
    • Further, he attributes any criticism of the policy and confusion surrounding the directive as merely a public relations issue.
  • The Select Subcommittee’s investigation into the New York nursing home disaster is far from over. We will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead and hold the Cuomo Administration to account.

Following the completion of Mr. Cuomo’s interview, Chairman Wenstrup joined a press conference with Members of the New York delegation. His remarks can be found here, here, and below:

Thank you, everybody for coming out today. We just had a very long and I’d say eventful day, an informative day with Governor Cuomo concerning primarily, but not only, the nursing home situation in New York that led to so many thousands of deaths. Today was very revealing. I felt like the governor was defensive throughout most of the day, often putting blame on other people rather than himself. He didn’t seem to be taking a lot of responsibility for the things that were happening.

One of the key elements of concern that we have had in this is the directive that came from New York that said you must accept patients and not test them for COVID at nursing homes. I thought that was interesting because at one point he said, I think our problem was that the staff wasn’t being tested. Well, they [patients]were prohibited from being tested…and you put them into a nursing home amongst the most vulnerable people, our American senior citizens. He seemed to feel very little remorse. Often would be talking about a certain number of deaths in a certain place, and to him they were just numbers. They were just numbers.

But there were a lot of prospective things that we want to look into further, and I think we’ll be looking into further. It is mind blowing to me that the governor, who was later to rescind or amend the directive that went out about putting COVID patients or untested patients back into nursing homes. He was the one who put the Executive Order out to amend it. But when it came to the directive itself, he had no idea where it came from and still does not. No responsibility. I don’t know where the buck stops.

And frankly, it’s not only with state government in the situation. We see the same problem with our federal agencies, especially when you look with the situation at NIAID and NIH where Dr. Fauci said that he was ‘not the one who approves the grants,’ I just sign them and your taxpayer dollars go out. There are a lot of taxpayer dollars in New York as well and seemingly a lack of accountability. So, we are not finished.

But I want to give a lot of credit through this whole process and the months and years that went into leading up to this day today, to our members from New York.

I don’t think this would have happened if we weren’t in the majority and this is not the last step. We’ll take what he said today and compare it to what the facts and reality, compare some of those things. It is very likely we will ask the Governor to come back in front of Congress again. It’s not only just the people in New York that deserve this, because they do, but I think the whole country does.”