The State Assembly’s impeachment inquiry is “nearing completion,” and Governor Andrew Cuomo has until next 5 p.m. Friday to provide the Judiciary Committee with any evidence he wants them to consider, according to committee’s chair Assemblymember Charles Lavine.
Outside attorneys hired by the Judiciary Committee to investigate Cuomo gave him an August 13th deadline, in the ongoing fallout from New York Attorney General Letitia James’s blistering report that found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and oversaw a workplace culture run by fear and intimidation.
The Judiciary Committee could begin to consider articles of impeachment at their previously scheduled meeting on Monday morning. Though the process is expected to take several weeks, as members want to incorporate threads from their own investigation that go beyond the attorney general’s report. Even once the articles are drafted and the assembly votes on them, there’s a 30-day delay before the State Senate can begin trial, pushing the timeline for impeachment well into the fall.
“When we do these articles, they have to be all inclusive,” said Assemblyman Michael Montesano, the ranking Republican of the judiciary committee. He said the committee’s plan was to rapidly close out its other lines of inquiry—Cuomo’s withholding details about the deaths of nursing home residents in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, his office’s manipulation of a health department report, and the misuse of state resources relating to a $3 million book deal—before drafting articles of impeachment.
“[Cuomo] has to be held accountable to everything else that he did. We’re not going to let that slip out the door.”
“There won’t be much more of a delay,” Montesano said.
Asked if the Governor Cuomo wanted to comment on the looming impeachment process, Cuomo’s senior advisor Richard Azzopardi gave a one word response: “Nope.”
That timeline has frustrated other members of the Assembly like Ron Kim, who has been ready to impeach Cuomo based on information already in the public record, for months.
“If there’s a political will to impeach, we can do it tomorrow,” he said. “We’re not there yet.”
Kim and several other legislative sources described a nearly four-hour meeting on Tuesday afternoon in which a vast majority of the Democratic assembly members turned against Cuomo and said they supported impeachment. In the face of that resounding loss of support, Majority Speaker Carl Heastie declared Cuomo should “no longer remain in office,” and promised to move “expeditiously.”
The report from Attorney General Letitia James tipped the scales for many assembly members who’d previously called for due process and patience, such as Al Taylor who cited a pattern of abuse of power and sexual harassment laid out by the investigators and Latoya Joyner, a member of the judiciary committee, who vowed to help move the committee’s impeachment investigation to a swift conclusion.
But, according to Kim, there wasn’t consensus at Tuesday’s meeting on the scope of the inquiry, namely whether lawmakers should draft articles of impeachment based solely on the Attorney General’s report or broaden them to include the other allegations against Cuomo under review.
Speaker Heastie’s office didn’t return a request for further comment Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more ardent members of the assembly are hoping the body lives up to Heastie’s promise of moving quickly. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, another early proponent of impeachment, said on NPR Wednesday, that she was concerned about current members of Cuomo’s staff who could be subject to further harm.
“Governor Cuomo has made clear that he won’t leave on his own,” she said. “It’s up to the legislature to take the steps necessary to remove him.”