New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie somewhat reversed course Monday, promising to share the results of the Assembly’s impeachment inquiry in a report amid tremendous pushback over the weekend from members of the public, victims of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual harassment, as well members of the committee overseeing the investigation.
In a joint statement with Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine, Heastie said they planned to release a final report of their findings despite calling off the impeachment proceedings. Beyond the sexual harassment allegations, the committee was looking into how the Cuomo administration handled reporting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and the governor’s lucrative book deal, both areas under investigation by federal prosecutors and the state attorney general.
There was no timeline given on when the report would be completed, though several members of the Judiciary Committee previously said that the investigation would be done in the next few weeks.
Heastie announced late Friday that the Assembly would drop its impeachment investigation because he and Lavine said they determined they had no legal standing to continue after Cuomo announced he would resign, effective Aug. 24th. The move blindsided some of the committee members, and raised questions from others on legal grounds.
Heastie also said he didn’t want to interfere with the investigations into Cuomo’s conduct being conducted by various local, state and federal prosecutors.
Seven Democrats and six Republicans in the Assembly issued statements demanding the committee, at the very least, release the findings of their months-long investigation. At first, Heastie pushed back against the criticism, denying that he’d cut a deal with Cuomo to evade an impeachment trial, before relenting.
The change in course came as a relief to some critics on the Judiciary Committee, who thought the investigation they’d helped shepherd for the past five months and towards which taxpayers had paid an estimated $250,000, had vanished overnight.
“I’m pleased that this is not just being dropped the way we thought it was going to be on Friday,” said Assemblymember Michael Montesano, the committee’s ranking Republican member. “The governor needs to be held accountable to the public and the public needs to know what transpired.”
Democratic Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright, who had also expressed frustration with the probe’s cancelation last week, agreed.
“There are far too many unanswered questions that need addressing in the public record,” she said. “We owe a full accounting to the people of New York.”