The Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) opted Thursday not to investigate coronavirus-related nursing home deaths in Michigan.
Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania enacted controversial policies to placing coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes to recuperate, effectively spreading the disease among the most susceptible population.
Last year, the Trump DOJ attempted to get nursing home death data from Whitmer’s administration, and the governor issued a joint statement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The pair argued there were partisan motivations for probing the large coronavirus-related percentage of nursing home deaths.
“This is nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention,” Whitmer and Cuomo, who was embroiled in his own nursing home death scandal, said, according to the Daily Gazette.
“It’s no coincidence the moment the Trump administration is caught weakening the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] testing guidelines to artificially lower the number of positive cases, they launched this nakedly partisan deflection,” the duo said.
Now, the Biden-led agency will not investigate the policy of Whitmer, whom he had on his short list for a running mate.
The Detroit News reported:
The Department of Justice joins Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel in declining to probe the policies on which Republicans have focused attacks. While GOP lawmakers have pressed to uncover more information about how the orders impacted the virus’ spread among a vulnerable population, the lack of law enforcement inquiries hinders their efforts.
“We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the department,” wrote Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the special litigation section for the department’s civil rights division, in a letter to Whitmer’s chief legal counsel, Mark Totten, on Thursday.
“Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA (Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act) investigation of any public nursing facility within Michigan at this time.”
That drew a stinging response from one of Whitmer’s Republican challengers, Tudor Dixon, whose grandmother died alone in a nursing home during Whitmer’s lockdown.
“The Biden Department of Justice has chosen to put partisan politics ahead of accountability in deciding not to investigate Gov. Whitmer’s deadly policy of putting coronavirus-infected patients into nursing homes,” Dixon said in a statement, “and exposing the most vulnerable to the disease.”
“Gov. Whitmer’s actions were unforgivable and will not be forgotten by the thousands of families that needlessly suffered the loss of a loved one,” she continued.
“I’m encouraged that competent law enforcement leaders like Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido are investigating these unnecessary deaths in Gov. Whitmer’s war on nursing homes,” Dixon said. “These many victims deserve justice.”
Lucido announced an investigation into the deaths in his jurisdiction. In March, he put out a call for the families of victims to file complaints and said he received “hundreds.”
“If we find there’s been willful neglect of office, if we find there’s been reckless endangerment of a person’s life by bringing them in, then we would move forward with charges against the Governor. Of course, we would,” he told WXYZ.
“Nobody’s above the law in this state.”
Independent journalist Charlie LeDuff launched his own investigation to get a fully accurate picture of the nursing home deaths. He speculated the number, which is nearly 7,000, could be undercounted by as much as 100 percent.
A Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) spokesman told LeDuff a review of death data was stopped because it was too “time consuming.”
During a June legislative hearing on the matter, MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel conceded deaths “could be” undercounted in the state.