Assembly members will ‘move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible,’ speaker in state legislature says
The New York State Assembly is close to finishing its impeachment inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo following the release of an investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James that found that Mr Cuomo had sexually harrassed 11 women.
The chair of the committee overseeing the inquiry, Charles Lavine, said in a statement on Thursday that the probe said it was “nearing completion” and that the Assembly will shortly consider “potential articles of impeachment” against Mr Cuomo.
Mr Lavine, the chair of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, said lawyers hired by the state legislature had told Mr Cuomo and his legal team to submit any evidence they may have in defence of the governor by next Friday. The lawyers previously issued a subpoena to get access to documents relevant to their investigation.
The announcement is a sign that the Democratic State Assembly is trying to move expeditiously to remove the three-term governor of their own party from office after Ms James, also a Democrat, found that the governor had created a toxic workplace, including sexually harassing several women who worked for him.
Mr Cuomo is the son of Mario Cuomo, also a three-term New York governor, and the older brother of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
The New York State Assembly started an expansive impeachment inquiry in March, looking into several scandals involving the governor, such as how he handled deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic. The inquiry had started slowly, but after the report by the state Attorney General, Assembly leaders signalled that they were speeding up the probe and moving towards holding an impeachment vote, The New York Times reported.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Tuesday that members of the body would “move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible”.
State lawmakers in the Assembly can impeach the governor by a simple majority vote. The State Senate, where Democrats are also in the majority, would then conduct an impeachment trial.
If he’s convicted, Mr Cuomo would be forced to leave his office and could be banned from seeking statewide elected office in the future. He would be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
In the beginning, the impeachment inquiry focused on four main issues: the allegations of sexual harassment, the handling of nursing home deaths data, if he had used state resources to write a book about his leadership during the pandemic, and if his administration had hidden structural problems at a bridge named after his father – the Gov Mario M Cuomo Bridge.
One member of the Assembly’s judiciary committee said on Wednesday that the inquiry had “been redirecting” to move away from the allegations about the bridge. Others confirmed this version of events, The New York Times reported.
The statement from Mr Lavine didn’t specify when the probe would conclude and members of the judiciary committee have said that they will take as long as they need to conduct the investigation and provide the strongest case possible for impeachment ahead of a possible trial.
The Times reported earlier this week that one person involved in the process said it could take up to a month to finish the investigation as well as the articles of impeachment.
The committee is set to meet on Monday morning in the state capital of Albany. Mr Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately and has refused to accede to demands for his resignation for months.
Following the state Attorney General’s report, Mr Cuomo’s public support has decreased and some of his most loyal supporters have moved away from him.