Lawmakers give Cuomo one week to respond to impeachment

NY State Assembly has been investigating the governor over alleged sexual harassment and accusations he misled the public about COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York's Yankee Stadium, on July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York's Yankee Stadium, on July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

ALBANY, NY (AP) — State lawmakers told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday that their ongoing impeachment investigation is almost done and gave him a deadline of August 13 to provide additional evidence.

Since March, the Assembly’s judiciary committee has been investigating whether there are grounds to impeach the Democratic governor over sexual harassment allegations, misleading the public about COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes and using state resources and staff for his $5 million book deal.

In a letter sent on Thursday, the law firm leading the investigation, Davis Polk & Wardwell, reminded Cuomo’s legal team that it has subpoenaed certain documents and expects “full compliance from the governor,” but that his time to respond was almost up.

“We write to inform you that the Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client,” they wrote. “Accordingly, we invite you to provide any additional evidence or written submissions that you would like the Committee to consider before its work concludes.”

The letter was released publicly by Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine, a Long Island Democrat. The committee has scheduled its next meeting on the matter for Monday.

Findings from an independent investigation overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James released earlier this week said Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, and that his administration retaliated against at least one of them for going public with her allegations.

People participate in a protest against NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and protest for a moratorium on evictions, on August 4, 2021, in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFP)

Cuomo has denied making any inappropriate sexual advances and insists the findings don’t reflect the facts. He’s resisted numerous calls for his resignation from most of New York’s top Democrats and from national figures like United States President Joe Biden.

The governor had no public events planned on Thursday, and has not made himself available to reporters since the report’s release on Tuesday.

District attorneys in Manhattan, suburban Westchester, Oswego, Nassau Country and the state capital of Albany said they asked for investigative materials from the inquiry to see if any of the allegations could result in criminal charges.

Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes told WSYR-TV that he will begin investigating an incident involving a woman who testified that Cuomo ran two fingers across her chest and grazed the area between her shoulder and breasts at an upstate conservation event in May 2017.

One of Cuomo’s accusers said he groped her breast. Others have said he gave them unwanted kisses or touched parts of their bodies in ways that made them uncomfortable.

Nearly 60 percent — at least 89 — of the Assembly’s 150 members said they would impeach Cuomo if he doesn’t resign, according to a tally by The Associated Press based on interviews and public statements. That’s more then the simple majority needed for an impeachment vote.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, at a press conference in New York, on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, announces investigators have concluded that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees. Behind James are attorneys Joon Kim and Anne L. Clark, lead investigators. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Assemblymember Sarah Clark, a Democrat from Rochester, said colleagues who were once hesitant to call for Cuomo to leave office are now all calling for his resignation or impeachment.

“There are not that many more questions in anyone’s mind that he has truly broken state laws, and the state sexual harassment laws he signed into law,” Clark said.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Assembly’s judiciary committee will first wrap up its probe “as quickly as possible” before the chamber votes on articles of impeachment.

But it’s far from clear how long that will take. Several judiciary committee members estimate weeks or even a month.

Clark has asked legislative leaders whether the Assembly could submit articles of impeachment on harassment first and add more findings later. But committee member Tom Abinanti, a Democrat, said he supports waiting to end the probe and drawing up comprehensive articles that could hold up to legal scrutiny.

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