According to a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice sent to Gov. Whitmer’s office last week, the department will not open a civil rights investigation into Michigan nursing homes related to the Whitmer administration’s COVID-19 policies.
he department had requested documents regarding the policies in August, when former Donald Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, sent a letter to Gov. Whitmer and other Democratic governors in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The requests alleged that Whitmer and the others “issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”
The letter, directed to Gov. Whitmer’s chief counsel Mark Totten, said that the inquiry is not proceeding.
"We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the Department. Based on that review, we have decided not to open a (civil rights) investigation of any public nursing facility within Michigan at this time," wrote Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the litigation section with the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
Rosenbaum is a career employee of the department. In addition, although the department’s authority is under an appointee of President Joe Biden, they did open an investigation in February into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration’s handling of nursing homes and COVID-19 policies.
Michigan Republicans first criticized Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes after she issued a short-lived executive order early in the pandemic that required COVID-19 positive patients who didn’t require hospitalization to be placed in sectioned off areas of nursing homes if it could be done safely. Both Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the order was not implemented as written.