New York state lawmakers will suspend the impeachment investigation into Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) the day the scandal-ridden governor officially leaves office, the state assembly leader announced Friday.
The investigation, which launched in March, was supposed to determine whether Cuomo should be removed from office, and came after several women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. At the time, he was also facing questions about his nursing home policies, his administration’s decision to withhold nursing home death data from lawmakers, and his decision to profit off a pandemic memoir about leadership.
But Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said in a statement that, now that Cuomo has agreed to resign, the investigation can’t proceed as planned.
“There are two reasons for this decision. First, the purpose of the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation was to determine whether Governor Cuomo should remain in office. The governor’s resignation answers that directive. Second, we have been advised by Chair Lavine – with the assistance of counsel – of the belief that the constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office,” said Heastie.
“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 added. “Underscoring the depth of this investigation, this evidence concerned not only sexual harassment and misconduct but also the misuse of state resources in relation to the publication of the governor’s memoir as well as improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Cuomo, 63, announced Tuesday that he would resign in the aftermath of the state attorney general’s report, which concluded that the governor broke state and federal law by sexually harassing a number of women, including some who worked for him. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing, and even in his resignation announcement, the governor described the controversy as “politically motivated” and “untruthful.”
“I’ve never crossed the line with anyone,” he said. “But, I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way that I can help now is if I step aside and let the government back to governing,” said Cuomo.
When Cuomo officially steps down from his position, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a little-known state Democrat who has served with Cuomo for two of his three terms, will become governor. When the attorney general’s report was released, Hochul called Cuomo’s behavior “repulsive ” and “unlawful” but declined to comment extensively, citing her place in the line of succession.
The resignation will take effect in 11 days. Hochul, however, has said that she doesn’t need that long.
“I want people to know that I’m ready for this,” she said.
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