Andrew Cuomo testifies before House panel on COVID nursing home policy

The former New York governor's deposition took place behind closed doors.

June 11, 2024, 5:09 PM

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared Tuesday before a congressional subcommittee to speak about his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, including its highly-scrutinized handling of nursing homes.

The transcribed interview took place behind closed doors with the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The GOP-led panel issued a subpoena in March for Cuomo, a Democrat, to sit for a deposition.

The former governor briefly addressed reporters as he arrived at the O'Neill House Office Building on Tuesday morning.

"Today is is an opportunity to actually get the truth and the facts out, and I welcome that opportunity," he told reporters.

He went on to accuse Republicans of weaponizing the justice system to target Democrats over the pandemic, and said he was "proud" of how New York handled the health crisis.

PHOTO: Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrives for a closed-door interview with the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Coronavirus Pandemic about New York's response to COVID-19, at O'Neill building in Washington, D.C., June 11, 2024.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrives for a closed-door interview with the House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Coronavirus Pandemic about New York's response to COVID-19, at O'Neill building in Washington, D.C., June 11, 2024.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Cuomo's appearance comes on the heels of the subcommittee's hearing last week with Dr. Anthony Fauci as Republicans continue to try to put the country's response to COVID-19 in the spotlight amid a contentious 2024 presidential election cycle.

Fauci defended against Republican criticisms of his leadership and pushed back on their assertions about the origins of the virus.

The questioning of Cuomo is expected to largely focus on his administration's instruction to nursing homes in the early days of the pandemic to accept residents recovering from the virus after they were discharged from hospitals.

The directive was issued in March 2020 and rescinded weeks later. Cuomo has long defended the policy as having been based on federal guidance, but the move faced criticism that it led to increased deaths in nursing homes.

PHOTO: FILE - Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and makes announcement to combat COVID-19 Delta variant at 633 3rd Avenue Aug. 2, 2021.
FILE - Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and makes announcement to combat COVID-19 Delta variant at 633 3rd Avenue Aug. 2, 2021.
Lev Radin, Pacific Press, LightRocket via Getty Images

Cuomo's administration was also pilloried for having allegedly misreported the overall number of COVID-related deaths at New York nursing homes. At first, officials counted only residents who had died in such facilities, excluding residents who died in hospitals.

Cuomo attributed the discrepancy to a delay as his office prioritized federal requests for data over state requests. Though one of his top aides at the time admitted his office withheld certain numbers due to concerns it would be used against them by the Trump administration.

Chairman Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, said Cuomo's testimony is "crucial to uncover the circumstances that led to his misguided policies and for ensuring that fatal mistakes never happen again."

"It appears that politics, not medicine, was responsible for these decisions," Wenstrup said in a in a statement ahead of Tuesday's testimony. "Former Governor Cuomo owes answers to the 15,000 families who lost loved ones in New York nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo's spokesperson, pushed back on the chairman's characterizations in a statement to ABC News.

"The Department of Justice has looked at this issue three times, as have the Manhattan District Attorney, the Attorney General and the New York State Assembly, all determining that the actual facts and evidence did not support any claim of wrongdoing, and no MAGA farce of a congressional hearing is going to change that," Azzopardi said in a statement.

"Despite the politicization of people's real pain, the facts remain: DOH medical professionals issued its March 25th admissions advisory based on federal CDC and CMS guidance -- just as 11 other states -- Democrat and Republican -- did," Azzopardi added.

Cuomo, who gained national attention for his often combative performances at multiple COVD-related briefings, was once heralded for his political leadership during COVID but became a pariah in his own party both over the nursing home controversy and later sexual harassment allegations that forced his resignation.

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