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Thu Aug 27, 2020, 06:38 PM

Trump DOJ Targets Democratic Governors For COVID-19 Outbreaks In Veterans Homes


“This really does smell,” said one former Civil Rights Division official who worries the Justice Department is weaponizing its power for political purposes.

President Donald Trump’s top civil rights official at the Department of Justice announced this week that he was considering launching investigations into how state-owned nursing homes responded to the coronavirus. The four states he targeted all have Democratic governors. This highly unusual public announcement of potential investigations raised alarm bells among Civil Rights Division alumni and Democrats that DOJ’s move was motivated by partisan politics.

Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general running the Civil Rights Division, sent letters to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, requesting documents and information under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) about how public nursing homes in their states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo and Whitmer said in a joint statement that the inquiries were “nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention.” They called DOJ’s move a “nakedly partisan deflection” and questioned why Republican-run states that, based on federal guidelines, had similar rules about nursing home admissions were not being targeted.

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