N.Y. Assembly Suspends Cuomo Impeachment Probe After Resignation
(Bloomberg) -- The New York Assembly will suspend its impeachment investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo upon his resignation, Speaker Carl Heastie said.
An Assembly Judiciary Committee meeting scheduled for Aug. 16 in Albany has been canceled, Chair Charles Lavine said in a statement. The panel had been considering whether to end their five-month impeachment investigation since Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday. At least seven of the 21 committee members, including one Democrat, had wanted to push forward with proceedings if only to keep Cuomo from running for office again.
Heastie, in a statement on Friday, said the purpose of the Assembly’s investigation was to determine whether Cuomo should remain in office, and the “governor’s resignation answers that directive.” The Assembly was also advised by counsel that the state constitution “does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office.”
Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, was under pressure to resign or face impeachment proceedings in the wake of an Aug. 3 report released by state Attorney General Letitia James that documented 11 sexual-harassment claims against the governor.
In addition to those allegations, lawmakers were considering whether the Cuomo administration covered up Covid-19 nursing-home deaths, provided relatives with virus testing before it was widely available, mishandled construction of the Mario Cuomo Bridge and misused public resources for a $5 million leadership book. The Assembly planned to use some of the evidence from James’s office in their own investigation.
“Let me be clear -- the committee’s work over the last several months, although not complete, did uncover credible evidence in relation to allegations that have been made in reference to the governor,” Heastie said. “This evidence - we believe - could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.”
Heastie said he asked Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine to turn over all the evidence it gathered to authorities investigating Cuomo. The speaker “has had no communication with the governor on this,” said Heastie spokesperson Kerri Biche.
“We are well aware that the attorney general is investigating issues concerning the governor’s memoir; the Eastern District of the United States attorney has been investigating the administration’s actions concerning nursing home data; and there are active investigations by local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions - Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau and Oswego - concerning incidents of sexual misconduct,” Heastie said.
Cuomo, 63, gave 14 days notice of his resignation. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over, becoming the first female governor of New York.
“It was ultimately up to the Assembly, and the Lieutenant Governor respects their decision,” said Hochul spokesperson Bryan Lesswing.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee had been accused by some Republicans of slow-walking its investigation. Earlier this week, Heastie had promised a quick end to the probe, and had told reporters he wouldn’t cut a deal with Cuomo regarding impeachment.
“The decision from Assembly Democrats to suspend the impeachment investigation reeks of a shady deal to protect Andrew Cuomo,” Senator Rob Ortt said in a statement. “Resignation is not accountability.”
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