NEW YORK NOW – Democrats in the State Assembly are now united in their calls for Gov. Cuomo to leave office after a report released Tuesday from the New York Attorney General’s Office found claims of sexual harassment made against the governor to be credible.
Now, Democrats will decide whether to move forward with impeachment charges against the governor. They’ve been building their own report to determine whether that’s the right move.
After Democrats in the Assembly met behind closed doors Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said they’d be looking to wrap up their impeachment investigation as soon as possible following the attorney general’s findings.
“After our conference this afternoon to discuss the Attorney General’s report concerning sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo, it is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” Heastie said.
“Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”
Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Schenectady, said on Tuesday that it’s not clear how the Assembly Judiciary Committee, which is handling that investigation, will move forward in the coming days in response to the report.
The 168-page report from New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment from 11 different women.
After James’ announcement Tuesday, Steck spoke with reporters about what will happen when the Judiciary Committee meets next week.
“Typically, the way impeachment works, we’re there to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the governor committed a variety of abuses of power, and the Assembly, then, is like a grand jury. It votes an indictment,” Steck said.
“And when you typically vote an indictment, as you know, you don’t just include one charge, you would want to include more than one charge, especially when you’re dealing with abuse of power, because you’re trying to reform what goes on in the Executive Chamber.”
Gov. Cuomo is also under investigation by the Assembly for the state’s reporting of nursing home deaths from COVID-19, and for allegations that he improperly used state resources to produce his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
While Steck is unsure of how the Judiciary Committee will proceed, he did call the governor’s conduct an abuse of power, and said Cuomo can no longer effectively lead the state.
“So I had called for him to resign in February. I think this report makes clear that he can no longer function effectively as governor of the state of New York,” Steck said.
“I also feel that there is absolutely no conceivable way that this governor should be re-nominated for another term by the Democratic Party.”
Until this point, many Republican hopefuls for governor had operated under the assumption that Cuomo would be their opponent in the general election, but Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt said that seems less certain, but is still possible.
“There could be a primary, there could be a lot of things that happen on that path, to whether he’s the actual nominee,” Ortt said.
“He says he’s running for re-election, and if he does, this is going to be a referendum on the governor. Do you think he has the moral and political authority to continue to lead?”
On the impeachment, Ortt said the Assembly doesn’t need to wait for the other parts of the investigation to conclude to take action. The Assembly judiciary committee is set to meet on August 9.