While Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was widely lauded for his response to COVID-19 early on in the pandemic, his political fortunes have changed dramatically in recent months.
Now facing bipartisan calls for his resignation or impeachment amid two serious scandals, the state Assembly recently authorized an impeachment inquiry into his alleged misdeeds.
“To examine allegations of misconduct”
Cuomo has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment in a controversy that came on the heels of reports that his office covered up the true COVID-19 death toll among New York’s nursing home population.
The latest move by the Assembly members followed the emergence of a sixth accuser who claimed she was “aggressively groped” by the embattled governor.
In a news release on Thursday, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie revealed: “After meeting with the Assembly Majority Conference today, I am authorizing the Assembly Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation, led by Chair Charles D. Lavine, to examine allegations of misconduct against Governor Cuomo.”
Calling the accusations against the governor “serious,” Heastie went on to confirm that the “committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution.”
In the end, the speaker expressed “the utmost faith” in the committee’s ability to “conduct an expeditious, full and thorough investigation.”
“Potential paths forward”
Heastie also noted that while the impeachment probe would run concurrently with an investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, it would not interfere with that probe.
According to Politico, several lawmakers who attended the roughly five-hour meeting said that Heastie laid out several “potential paths forward” in handling the deepening scandal. Tensions grew at certain points in the closed-door meeting as members debated the best response to the situation.
Despite some disagreements, a consensus was eventually reached that something must be done, including “overwhelming” support for the impeachment process to begin.
At least 43 Democratic lawmakers — a majority of the party’s caucus in the state Assembly — have either called for Cuomo to resign or expressed support for his impeachment. Combined with the body’s 43 Republicans, who stand united in opposition to the governor, it appears at this point that there are more than enough members to meet the threshold required for him to be impeached and removed from office.
Of course, the process is only now getting underway and that is no guarantee that it will even end with a trial, much less a conviction. For his part, Cuomo remains defiant in declaring his innocence and has scoffed at repeated calls for him to step down.