Politics What to Know About the Cuomo Investigations and Possible Impeachment
‘Buy some time, and hope that things calm down’: Cuomo’s crisis playbook
The New York Democrat’s reign as ‘America’s governor’ may have come to an end, but it’s far less certain that his actual governorship is end-stage. Ralph Northam, the Virginia governor who was on a political death watch following his blackface scandal, survived. So did an on-the-ropes President Bill Clinton, in whose administration Cuomo served during impeachment, giving him an up-close look at how to survive the seemingly unsurvivable.
Following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as evidence that his administration may have mishandled or hidden data regarding COVID-19 deaths at New York nursing homes, two state investigations have been launched to examine the claims. Since many state lawmakers have alreadyover the scandals, it’s possible that the probes will ultimately lead to an effort by the State Legislature to impeach the governor and remove him from office. Cuomo has denied engaging in any misconduct and refused to step down. Below is an overview of the investigations as they stand, the impeachment process, and how everything might play out.
Andrew Cuomo: New York state senate majority leader joins growing Democratic calls for the New York governor to resign
The walls are closing in on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 2: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a news conference at the National Press Club May 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Following a closed-door meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Cuomo leveled criticism at Republican senators and other politicians that he said want to limit federal aid for New York to combat and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
The attorney general’s investigation
New York attorney general Letitia James has launched an independent investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo which have been made by multiple former aides. The attorney general’s office asked the governor’s office to preserve all documents related to the matter, and Jamesformer acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne L. Clark to lead the probe. Both have pledged to conduct a thorough and rigorous investigation into the allegations.
It’s not clear how long the investigation will take.
The investigators met with one of Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennett, on March 15:
Cuomo reportedly tried to discredit a woman accusing him of sexual harassment by having his staff call her former coworkers
"It's a scary thing to get a call like that," one NY lawmaker previously told Insider. A Cuomo accuser was also among the former employees called.One of those reportedly called by Cuomo aides in the aftermath of the Boylan accusation was Ana Liss, who later came forward herself to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment.
Charlotte Bennett met with investigators today, per attorney Debra Katz— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman)
The governor’s office initially tried to start its own “outside review” of the allegations, but that plan was roundly criticized and rejected by state lawmakers.
The State Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation
On March 12, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that he had authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment probe into Governor Cuomo. The Committee has the power to subpoena documents and witnesses, and can determine, on its own, the scope of the investigation. Heastie has said that the impeachment investigation will be “very broad” and indicated there would be no set timeline for its conclusion, but that the probe “should be done expeditiously.” On March 17, Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Lavine announced that the Assembly had hired the Davis Polk law firm, including lawyers Angela Burgess, Greg Andres, and Martine Beamon, to assist with the probe.
The people he’s demeaned and dismissed over the years are now in command and without fear of retribution. Verily, "Cuomo-lot" has passed, its knight - a one-time petitioner for Kennedy royalty - is done, and without a new game plan, the road ahead cannot be repaired - even with the biggest infrastructure program in human history.Now that he's run through his normal playbook - deny the offense(s), smear the accuser(s), threaten the questioners, offer a bevy of excuses until one sticks - it's time for Cuomo engage in what for him will feel like a wholly alien strategy: honesty.
In addition to investigating the allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo by multiple women, the Committee’s probe is expected to look into how the Cuomo administrationduring the first wave of the pandemic, and may also investigate questions about how the administration handled on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge during its construction, as well as how and why the administration’s “vaccine czar” amid the current crisis.
The results of the attorney general’s parallel investigation in the sexual harassment allegations will undoubtedly be factored into the Judiciary Committee’s investigation, meaning it won’t conclude until after the AG probe does.
There are also indications, however, that Assembly Democrats are far from united with regards to how to proceed — with some fearing that a lengthy investigation into Cuomo’s conduct will enable the governor to avoid accountability,.
AOC and N.Y. congressional Democrats join call for Cuomo to resign
More than 10 members of New York’s Democratic congressional delegation, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Friday amid multiple claims of sexual harassment and assault against him. “This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, the“This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in a joint statement.
The impeachment process in New York State
Like in the federal government, the impeachment process begins in the lower house of the State Legislature — the 150-member State Assembly. Per the New York State Constitution, an impeachment resolution in the Assembly would require a simple majority, or 76 votes, to pass. Should that happen, the process moves on to the 63-member State Senate, where a Court for the Trial of Impeachments is convened, consisting of the lieutenant governor, all state senators, and the seven judges from the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.
When the governor is impeached, the lieutenant governor (, in this case) temporarily becomes the acting governor for the duration of the trial, and is excluded from participating in the trial, along with the president pro tempore of the Senate (currently majority leader ) — since both are in the line of succession for the governor’s office. That would leave 69 members in the Court for the trial, and a two-thirds majority, or 46 votes, would be needed to convict and remove the governor from office. The same number of votes would be required to ban the governor from ever holding elected office in the state again.
The governor would be able to retain his own counsel to represent him in the impeachment trial.
Schumer Says Cuomo Lost New Yorkers' Confidence, Pelosi Dodges Calls for His Resignation
House Speaker Pelosi said the embattled New York governor "should look inside his heart to see if he can govern effectively."Cuomo, a Democrat, is facing significant pressure to resign—as he simultaneously faces the threat of impeachment—after multiple female staffers came forward with allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted them while they served in his administration. That scandal came as the New York governor was already under investigation for covering up the extent of the death toll from the pandemic in nursing homes, after his administration ordered the facilities to accept COVID-19 positive patients last spring.
How might the impeachment process play out against Cuomo?
Once the Assembly Judiciary Committee completes its investigation of Governor Cuomo, it could release a report containing its findings and/or go ahead and draft articles of impeachment against him. There are currently 106 Democrats and 43 Republicans serving in the Assembly (along with one Independent). If a resolution to impeach Cuomo were to attract bipartisan support, 33 Democrats would need to join all Assembly Republicans for it to pass. Without GOP support, 76 Assembly Democrats would need to back impeachment.
At least 40 Democratic Assembly members have already called for Cuomo to resign, but only a handful have said they also want to impeach him. Assembly Republicans recently drafted a resolution on their own to impeach Cuomo over the nursing-home data scandal and sexual harassment allegations, and a spokesperson for the minority told WNYC nearly all GOP members said they would support it (and at least 38 Assembly Republicansthey want Cuomo to resign in light of the scandals).
In the State Senate, at least 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans have called for Cuomo to resign, but as in the Assembly, it’s not clear how many would also support removing him should they get the opportunity.
It is not clear how long the Judiciary Committee’s investigation will take, so it’s currently not possible to speculate on any timetable for when the impeachment process, should there be one, would begin.
What constitutes an impeachable offense in New York?
The New York State Constitution, unlike the U.S. Constitution, doesn’t stipulate what a state officeholder can be impeached for — leaving that judgment entirely up to the State Legislature.
Cuomo leans on Black Democrats and old friends as he fights for his political future
In the middle of arguably the most trying moment in his political career, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ventured to Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem to get the coronavirus vaccine with a range of black political and spiritual leaders this week. © Seth Wenig/Pool/Getty Images New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks before getting vaccinated at the mass vaccination site at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on March 17, 2021, in New York City.
Is there any chance Cuomo will resign?
There is currently, at least for the foreseeable future. He has adamantly refused to resign, those who have called on him to do so, and seems, at least for now, fully intent on riding out the crisis (and more likely than not, running for a fourth term when he is up for reelection next year). He has asked lawmakers and the public to withhold judgment until after the probe the attorney general ordered has been completed, and has made it clear he believes that investigation will reveal he did not do what his accusers have alleged. In addition, recent polls that a majority of Democratic voters in the state continue to support the governor, even amid the scandals.
It’s possible Cuomo’s calculus on resignation could change, but he’s staying put in the meantime.
Who replaces Cuomo if he is impeached and removed, or resigns?
If Cuomo steps down or is removed from office via impeachment,would become governor and serve out the remainder of his term (and be able to appoint a new lieutenant governor to serve out the rest of her term). Hochul would then be up for reelection (and face possible primary challenges from other Democrats) in 2022.
What happens if he is impeached and aquitted?
Nothing, legally. Cuomo would regain his powers as governor, and Kathy Hochul would return to serving as lieutenant governor. Impeachment would undoubtedly come with a high political cost for Cuomo, however, and significantly reduce his chances at winning a fourth term in office, should he opt to run for reelection next year.
Would impeaching Cuomo have an impact on the state’s COVID response?
If the threat of impeachment grows, it’s possible Cuomo and his advisers will argue that moving forward with the process will hamper the state’s effort to recover from the pandemic. It’s far from clear if that would actually be the case, however. During the impeachment trial — and after, if Cuomo is removed — running the state and COVID response would fall to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, anwho appears to be widely respected by state and local officials. Many of the lawmakers who have called for Cuomo to resign or temporarily step aside have already expressed their faith that Hochul would be a more than suitable replacement.
Has a New York governor ever been removed?
William Sulzer has the rare distinction of being the only governor of New York to ever be impeached and removed by the State Legislature. In 1913, after less than ten months in office, Sulzer was impeached for campaign finance violations and removed following a three-week trial. According to historians, the impeachment came after Sulzer was targeted by the powerful and infamously corrupt Tammany Hall political organization after Sulzer attempted to limit the organization’s influence in state government.
Nationwide, just 16 governors have been impeached in U.S. history, with eight being subsequently convicted and removed from office.
Current Cuomo aide accuses him of sexual harassment, looking down her shirt, report says .
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment. He faces an impeachment probe and other investigations.The aide, 33-year-old Alyssa McGrath, told The New York Times that Cuomo had once looked down her shirt, commented on her appearance by calling her "beautiful" in Italian and otherwise engaged in flirtatious behavior.