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Garland to be grilled on Cuomo nursing home scandal at AG hearing

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Senate Republicans plan to grill President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, on whether he’ll probe Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s alleged cover-up of New York nursing home deaths during confirmation hearings next week.

Cuomo has denied there was any criminal cover-up.

“When Judge Garland testifies before this Committee, we expect him to commit the Department of Justice to fully investigating this cover-up to determine whether any criminal laws were violated and to prosecute any violations,” a group of nine Republicans led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a letter this week.

“We will also ask him whether he has the resources he needs to fully pursue an investigation, not only into the deaths that occurred in New York but the deaths that occurred in other states that adopted similar directives leading to the admission of COVID-19 infected persons into elder care facilities,” the senators continued.

The GOP senators were referring to a March 25, 2020, Cuomo administration directive for nursing homes to accept recovering coronavirus patients discharged from hospitals.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, wears a protective mask while departing the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021.
Sen. Ted Cruz leads a group of nine Republicans who plan to ask Merrick Garland if he’ll commit to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s handling of nursing home deaths in New York.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

But a recent analysis of state data found that putting COVID-19 patients in nursing homes during the peak of the pandemic contributed to a spike in resident deaths.

Outrage at Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes intensified after The Post exclusively revealed last week that top aide Melissa DeRosa privately admitted in a meeting with New York state lawmakers that the administration hid the total number of nursing home deaths amid a Department of Justice investigation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has denied there was any criminal cover-up.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has denied there was any criminal cover-up.
Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FBI and the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office have launched a probe in response to The Post’s bombshell report.

The GOP senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee made the request to query Garland about the scandal in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the panel chairman. They also asked for public hearings into the allegations against Cuomo.

Melissa DeRosa privately admitted in a meeting that the Cuomo administration hid the total number of nursing home deaths.
Melissa DeRosa privately admitted in a meeting that the Cuomo administration hid the total number of nursing home deaths.
Dennis A. Clark

Meanwhile, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also urged President Biden in a separate letter to retain Acting US Attorney for the Northern District of New York Toni Bacon to oversee the Cuomo nursing home probe. Bacon is being asked to resign in favor of new appointees in the Justice Department.

Grassley pointed out a major conflict of interest with Acting Southern District of New York US Attorney Audrey Strauss, who is DeRosa’s mother-in-law.

Democratic US Senator Dick Durbin arrives at the US Capitol for the fifth day of the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, on February 13, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) arrives at the US Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“[Bacon] is the obvious choice to continue a fair and unbiased investigation into possible violations of civil liberties of the elderly and the public corruption which may have occurred in this case,” Grassley wrote.

“Yet it may be your intention to require Ms. Bacon to leave as soon as the end of the month. Replacing Ms. Bacon at this time would send a terrible message about the independence of the Department of Justice.”

Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, takes a question during a news conference at the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2020.
Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, is Melissa DeRosa’s mother-in-law.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Garland was nominated by former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court during his last year in office, but the GOP-controlled Senate refused to confirm him.

But Garland, a well-respected jurist in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, is expected to be confirmed as attorney general.

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