The civil rights inquiry into publicly run nursing homes in New York and other Democratic-led states in the country was a politically motivated exercise that was part of the "political hyperbole," Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday charged.
The Department of Justice on Friday in a letter to Republican Rep. Steve Scalise indicated it had dropped the civil rights inquiry after officials last year requested nursing home data from several states, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
All of those states are led by Democratic governors, and Cuomo on Monday at an unrelated event at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx called the probe a "cruel" act for those who lost loved ones in the facilities during the pandemic.
"Four Democratic states, four Democratic governors and they were going to investigate us for causing deaths in nursing homes," Cuomo said. "The political environment has gotten so toxic, so mean, it was an outrageous allegation."
A separate investigation by the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn is said to be reviewing how New York reported nursing home fatalities and where those deaths occurred during the pandemic.
The Department of Justice's civil rights division last year requested documents from several states, with the request for New York initially focusing on a handful of publicly run facilities in the state.
Cuomo noted the timing, at the height of a hotly contested presidential election and amid an ongoing battle between his administration and President Donald Trump, was more than coincidental.
"Of course this was all political hyperbole," Cuomo said. "The Department of Justice is supposed to be the Department of Justice. It's not supposed to be you investigate political enemies."
The deaths of nursing home residents during the pandemic is just one of several controversies facing Cuomo this year as the Democratic-led state Assembly has launched a separate investigation that could lead to his impeachment.
Cuomo is also facing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, which are under investigation by Attorney General Letitia James's office.