Politics Cuomo's political future in question as fallout grows
Ethics body allows Cuomo book deal to stand
A New York ethics agency has voted to maintain its approval of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's book deal, despite the body recently approving an investigation into that authorization. © Provided by Washington Examiner On Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted 7-2 to undo its 2020 agreement allowing Cuomo to rake in an estimated $5.1 million from American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic. The measure required eight votes to pass. "I move to void the opinion of the deputy general counsel acting in the capacity as acting co-executive director approving Gov.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is trying to survive a political gauntlet - including multiple criminal investigations, impeachment proceedings and potential primary challengers - after the release of a bombshell report detailing allegations of sexual harassment against him by nearly a dozen women.
The report, released Tuesday by state Attorney General Letitia James (D), set off a flood of calls for his resignation and spurred an impeachment committee in the state Assembly to ramp up its investigation into the same claims - a process that could lead to Cuomo's ouster. And even if Cuomo runs through those headwinds and remains in office, he heads into a reelection race in 2022 more vulnerable than at any point during his time in public office.
Kathy Hochul to become New York's 1st female governor after Cuomo resigns
Following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation on Tuesday, his lieutenant, Kathy Hochul, will become the state’s first female governor. Cuomo stepped down following an investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James that found he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women. In a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday morning, Hochul said she was “prepared” to take over for Cuomo. Hochul, a Buffalo native and former Democratic congresswoman, will now assume the governorship and become the first governor from outside New York City or its neighboring counties in nearly a century. © Provided by Yahoo! News New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Though Cuomo hails from a storied New York family and has built a solid power base in the Empire State after serving in various federal and state roles since 1993, Democratic observers in the state say his time in office may be approaching its conclusion, be it by his own will, a booting by lawmakers or a decision from voters next year.
"He's at death's door," said state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris (D).
Cuomo's political fortunes began to drop earlier this year after a wave of women publicly and anonymously accused him of sexual misconduct, including groping, unwanted kissing and inappropriate comments in the workplace. He was also hit with negative headlines after it was revealed his administration intentionally undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
A top Facebook communications manager helped Cuomo's office leak confidential files about one of his accusers, AG's report says
Dani Lever worked in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press office for several years before leaving in August 2020 to join Facebook.Dani Lever, a former Cuomo aide, joined the governor's staff in 2014, later becoming his first female press secretary and eventually his director of communications. The New York Daily News reported last August that she was leaving the governor's office to join Facebook as a communications manager.
While he kept his head down and ultimately was able to put the negative headlines behind him, his future was thrown into even deeper jeopardy Tuesday with James's announcement.
The independent inquiry that was authorized by James's office after the initial claims were leveled found that Cuomo harassed several women, including some who worked in his office, and violated state and federal laws. He and his aides also retaliated against at least one woman who came forward.
The report contained shocking and graphic details, including how he subjected one woman identified as "executive assistant #1" to "repeated physical violations," including hugging her and reaching under her blouse to grab her breast.
It was graphic details like that that ripped the scab off the scandal and made Democrats at the pinnacle of power from Albany to Washington call for him to resign.
Impeach CNN | Opinion
CNN likes to call itself the "most trusted name in news." This has not been true for a long time. But its recent failure in covering up for a host running cover for the governor of New York is a step too far.Mujahed Kobe is the co-host of the Habibi Power Hour podcast and a political commentator comedian.The views in this article are the writer's own.
"This report highlights unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration. As I said, when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state. Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor," said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
"I think he should resign," President Biden added to reporters. "I'm sure there were some embraces that were totally innocent. But apparently, the attorney general decided there were things that weren't."
Despite that avalanche, Cuomo remained defiant Tuesday, insisting that he never treated anybody inappropriately and that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed."
Those who have worked with Cuomo predict that defiance to continue and that a resignation is not forthcoming.
Video: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing new probes in fallout over state AG's report (CBS News)
"He's not someone who walks. It's pretty clear from anybody who knows him that he's figuring out how to fight every day and every way," said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked both for and against Cuomo. "So don't expect for him to leave."
Manhattan, Westchester, Nassau DAs ask for evidence from Cuomo sex harassment probe
Westchester DA Mimi Rocah asked N.Y. AG Letitia James to send her materials related to one of the 11 women who in a report accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.The district attorneys of Manhattan, and Westchester and Nassau counties, joined the Albany County DA in seeking investigative materials collected for that report, in which 11 women accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct or inappropriate behavior.
That strategy has left observers scratching their heads given the political island on which Cuomo finds himself. But beyond sparking confusion, his refusal to resign also moves his political future largely out of his own hands and into those who have advocated for his ouster - be it lawmakers or voters.
An impeachment investigation into the sexual harassment claims that was sparked earlier this year is now expected to ramp up after James's announcement. And while four county district attorneys are launching their own inquiries into the allegations, it is the state Assembly's impeachment investigation that could pose the largest risk to the governor.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D), an erstwhile Cuomo ally, said in a statement Tuesday that "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" and that Democrats "will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible."
An impeachment of Cuomo would require a majority vote from the 150-member Assembly, and a conviction would take a two-thirds vote, or 46 affirmative votes, out of a 69-member body consisting of the state Senate, minus the majority leader, and the judges of the Court of Appeals.
Rudy Giuliani criticized Andrew Cuomo's treatment, comparing his sexual harassment allegations to those against Trump
"Cuomo may be guilty, but we used to have trials before convictions," Donald Trump's former personal attorney tweeted.The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday said its independent investigators had concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees.
While Cuomo's ouster via that route is not certain, lawmakers say the math for both is virtually baked in.
"We now have 36 members of the majority, of Democrats in the Senate, who have called for his resignation. That's not even including the Republicans," Gianaris said, before emphasizing that political considerations would not sway a trial. "So we already have more than [46 people] who have called for his resignation, if you count Republican senators."
Democratic strategists say removing Cuomo quickly could help the party before ties to him become a drag for lawmakers in the 2022 midterms.
"Right now, it looks like it's Cuomo against the world," said George Arzt, a strategist who has advised Cuomo in the past. "He has no backing in the Democratic Party, and the Democrats fear that this will be an issue in the midterm elections. So, it's better to get rid of him now."
Should he somehow resist calls for his resignation and beat an impeachment effort, Cuomo would still not be out of the political woods.
The three-term governor is up for reelection next year and has yet to give any signs his scandals will force him off the campaign trail. But polling released in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's bombshell cast a pall over his chances for a fourth term.
A Marist poll conducted Tuesday evening found that 63 percent of registered New York voters believe Cuomo should resign, and only 12 percent think he deserves reelection, including just 18 percent of Democrats. Pollsters say those are the types of numbers that could open the floodgates for primary challengers.
State Senate Members Call For Andrew Cuomo's Impeachment Amid Release of AG Report
Eighty-three percent of the New York State Senate and 56 percent of the State Assembly have so far called on Cuomo to resign or be impeached. "Today's findings from the AG's Office are a horrifying reminder of what women are often expected to endure in silence. I'm in awe of your bravery. We owe you accountability," New York Senate Assemblywoman Sarah Clark tweeted on Tuesday. "If Governor Cuomo will not resign, we must impeach."Today’s findings from the AG’s Office are a horrifying reminder of what women are often expected to endure in silence. I’m in awe of your bravery. We owe you accountability.
"If I was thinking of running, I'd certainly be a candidate who will look at that 18 percent reelect figure among Democrats and say that there's a wide-open path for a challenge," said Lee Miringoff, who conducted the poll. "He was challenged the last two times, not by well-known people or not by people who had political chops. But this would be a very different challenge, presumably because it's someone who would step up with the wind at their backs."
Republicans are also chomping at the bit to take on Cuomo, hinting a strong contender against the scandal-plagued governor might be their best shot at winning the governor's mansion in deep-blue New York.
"Voters are quickly realizing it's time to bring respect and dignity back to the state capitol, and the RGA looks forward to seeing a Republican knock Cuomo off of his perch in 2022," said Republican Governors Association spokesman Will Reinert.
That kind of confidence has Democrats worried about a Cuomo nomination.
"It's important that we put forward our best candidates so that we don't give them a chance to run the state," Gianaris said. "And Andrew Cuomo is not that person."
Still, Cuomo has built a substantive political base over his decades in politics both in New York City and upstate, and with his broad name recognition, he's still not a dead man walking. And with the GOP brand in the Empire State tarnished by Republicans' ties to former President Trump, observers say he could still fend off both a primary and general election challenger.
"Absent an indictment or expulsion through impeachment," Sheinkopf said, "this guy may just tough it out."
Pelosi among top Democrats calling for NY Gov. Cuomo's resignation .
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign following the release of a bombshell sexual harassment report.Pelosi expressed her belief that Cuomo should resign, a shift from the spring when she declined to call on the governor to step down from office.