New York Assembly Republicans introduced an impeachment resolution against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday over accusations of sexual harassment and covering up COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes, while Mr. Cuomo dug in and scoffed that he doesn’t “work for politicians in Albany.”
“The governor’s lost so much credibility and trust that we don’t feel like he can go forward and govern,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, Pulaski Republican. “We believe the time has come.”
Also on Monday, state Attorney General Letitia James appointed former acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to lead the state’s investigation into the sexual harassment charges against Mr. Cuomo.
“They are both independent, legal experts with decades of experience,” Ms. James said. “There is no question they have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
She said the probe will subpoena documents and depose witnesses. The investigators will provide weekly updates of their progress to the attorney general’s office, and their report will be made public upon the probe’s completion.
Mr. Kim led the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan when it brought a corruption case against Joe Percoco, Mr. Cuomo‘s former campaign manager and top aide. Percoco was convicted in 2018 of taking more than $300,000 from companies with business before the state, and is serving a six-year prison term.
Republicans can’t force the Democratic-controlled Assembly to move forward with impeachment proceedings, but Mr. Barclay vowed, “We’re going to keep pounding on this issue. There has been one bombshell after another.”
Mr. Barclay cited a state attorney general’s report indicating that the Cuomo administration had underreported nursing-home deaths by as much as 50%, followed by “the bullying and the harassing of sitting members of the state legislature.”
“Then we had five courageous women come forward to talk about their abuse, sexual harassment, and other abuse at the hands of the governor,” Mr. Barclay said.
More than 60 legislators — including 40-plus Democrats, among them Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers — were on record by Monday urging Mr. Cuomo to step down or be impeached.
Removing a governor through impeachment would require a majority vote in the 150-member state Assembly, and a two-thirds vote in a Senate proceeding that would include judges from the state’s Court of Appeals.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Bronx Democrat, also said the scandals are a distraction from finishing urgent work next month on the state budget, which faces a multibillion-dollar hole.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said Monday that he expects “more information that’s going to come out” also will be detrimental to Mr. Cuomo.
“That’ll just make it harder and harder,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters. “I just don’t see how he can govern effectively when fewer and fewer people believe him.”
Mr. Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately or making sexual advances. He has apologized that the women might have misconstrued his behavior, and has asked the public to await the outcome of the independent state investigation.
The governor refused to allow journalists to cover his main public event Monday, an appearance with Black clergy at the Javits Convention Center in New York City aimed at urging more Blacks to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Mr. Cuomo‘s office cited pandemic restrictions for excluding media from the event, which was attended by dozens of others.
In remarks targeted toward minorities, the governor said he has “no agenda” in promoting vaccinations.
“I don’t represent or work for the politicians in Albany. I work for the people of the state,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Mr. Cuomo and his allies have been calling legislators in Albany to discourage them from pressing for his resignation, saying it would undermine the investigation overseen by the attorney general into the sexual harassment claims. The governor’s team reportedly is especially seeking the support of female legislators by noting that Ms. James is the state’s first female attorney general.
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