NEW YORK NOW – Republicans in New York said Monday that they’ll introduce a formal resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though the measure would have to gain support from Democrats to move forward.
Cuomo, who’s currently under investigation for claims of sexual harassment and his administration’s handling of COVID-19 at nursing homes, said Sunday he won’t resign.
Democrats, who lead both chambers of the state Legislature, have now called on Cuomo to either step down, in the case of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, or consider whether he can remain in office, in the case of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Given that Cuomo has shown no signs of leaving office, Republicans said Monday that lawmakers should be prepared to remove him through impeachment.
Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay said he hadn’t spoken to Heastie about the resolution, and that a decision to move the measure would ultimately be up to Democrats.
“We won’t be able to force a vote, but we’re going to keep pounding on this issue,” Barclay said. “If they really believe in resignation, why not start the impeachment process?”
Cuomo’s removal from office wasn’t on the table until late last month, when a handful of women came forward with claims that he’d acted inappropriately with them, including one woman who said he asked her a barrage of inappropriate questions about her sex life.
Other women have claimed that Cuomo either touched them inappropriately, or made inappropriate remarks to them. There are now five women who’ve leveled similar allegations against the governor.
Those claims have been referred to the New York Attorney General’s Office for an investigation, which will be led by a nonpolitical, independent law firm. That firm hasn’t been announced.
That’s on top of another probe from federal prosecutors, who are looking at the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, including data related to COVID-19 deaths at those facilities.
Democrats in the Legislature are currently split on whether Cuomo should immediately step down, or if lawmakers should wait for the results of the investigation. Republicans appear to be united in calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat from Buffalo, signed on to a statement with nearly two dozen female members of the Assembly Monday, asking that lawmakers respect the attorney general’s probe in the matter.
“We believe that the Attorney General will exercise due process and expedience in her deliberations. We continue to support our Attorney General, the first woman, and the first African American woman to be elected to this position, as she launches this investigation,” the lawmakers said.
“We request that she be allowed the appropriate time to complete her investigation rather than undermine her role and responsibility as the chief law enforcement officer of the state of New York.”
Barclay pushed back on that statement, saying the Attorney General’s Office could continue its investigation into Cuomo if he leaves office, regardless of whether he resigns or is removed by the Legislature.
“I don’t see why it’s mutually exclusive,” Barclay said.
Even if the Assembly agrees to support a resolution for impeachment against Cuomo, that may not result in his removal from office. Like federal impeachment proceedings, Cuomo would have to be convicted by the State Senate to be expelled.
Cuomo has denied claims that he inappropriately touched anyone during his time in office, but has acknowledged that some of his comments to staffers may have been insensitive.
During a call with the press on Sunday, he dismissed suggestions from Democrats that he step down, saying he’s planning to remain in office while the attorney general’s investigation continues. When the findings are made public, he’ll reassess, he said.
“There’s no way I resign,” Cuomo said. “Let’s do the attorney general’s investigation, let’s get the findings, and let’s go from there.”