Representatives react; Assembly prioritizes impeachment of Cuomo as Biden calls for resignation | Best Stories
New York State Assembly lawmakers will work quickly to complete the month-long chamber impeachment inquiry to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo, lawmakers said, as key state and nation political leaders reiterated their calls for the scandal-ridden governor to resign.
President Joe Biden, a longtime political ally and friend of the governor, called on Cuomo to step down on Tuesday after State Attorney General Letitia James’s office released a 168-page report earlier today concluding an investigation month that revealed that the governor had sexually harassed several women, breaking state and federal laws.
“I think he should step down,” Biden said, echoing calls made earlier by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and US Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, all Democrats.
Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both DN.Y., also reiterated their call for Cuomo’s resignation on Tuesday. Federal state leaders initially called on the governor to step down on March 12 after a January attorney general report that found Cuomo and his administration intentionally underreported COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes nurses up to 55%, and several women have come forward against him with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
“As we have said before, the governor’s reported actions were deeply disturbing, inappropriate and utterly unacceptable,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement Tuesday. “Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General has substantiated and corroborated the claims of the brave women who have come forward to share their stories – and we applaud the women for doing so.
“The New York State Attorney General conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the governor violated federal and state laws, sexually harassed current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created hostile work. environment ”, continued the. “No elected representative is above the law. New Yorkers deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign.
Democrats in the Assembly majority conference met to discuss the report and the conference’s next steps at 2 p.m. Tuesday. Lawmakers met and discussed their support for Cuomo’s impeachment for several hours.
“After our conference this afternoon to discuss the Attorney General’s report regarding the sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo, it is quite clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Democratic majority in the assembly and that he can no longer remain in office, “he added. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said in a statement. “Once we have received all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will act quickly and seek to complete our impeachment inquiry as quickly as possible. “
Heastie stopped before calling on the governor to step down this spring.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins D-Yonkers was the highest-ranking Democratic lawmaker in the state to call for the governor’s resignation in March. The report proves his unacceptable conduct, she said on Tuesday.
“Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as governor,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “Our highest elected office must reflect the values and integrity that they profess and that New Yorkers cherish. I thank the Attorney General and his investigators for their thorough investigation, and I also wanted to especially thank the courageous women who bravely stepped forward to shed light on this terrible situation. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.
Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay R-Pulaski sent a letter to Heastie on Tuesday urging the president to call an emergency special session to vote to impeach Cuomo.
“As the Assembly has embarked on its own impeachment inquiry, the details revealed by the attorney general and independent investigators are too appalling to be ignored and warrant swift and decisive action,” Barclay said in the letter. “In short, Andrew Cuomo has lost the confidence and credibility to lead this state. His provocative response today indicates that he has no intention of accepting responsibility for his actions. It is now up to the Assembly to ensure that the responsibility is ahead. “
President Charles Lavine, D-Glen Cove, is leading the impeachment inquiry of the 21-member Assembly Judiciary Committee against the governor on a myriad of charges.
Lawyers for Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, which the state hired to lead the impeachment inquiry, are next due to meet with the Judiciary Committee on August 9.
An impeachment resolution must be passed by a simple majority of 76 votes in the state legislature, which would force the governor to resign. The 150-member National Assembly has 107 Democratic members and 43 Republican members.
If passed, the president of the assembly would draft articles of impeachment and deliver them to the state Senate, which would hold a trial to convict the governor.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would take over as head of state after the articles of impeachment were handed over, forcing Cuomo to step down.
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable in any workplace, and certainly not in the public service,” Hochul said in a statement Tuesday. “The Attorney General’s investigation documented disgusting and illegal behavior by the governor towards several women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage to come. No one is above the law. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.
“Because the lieutenant governors are next in the line of succession,” she added, “it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this time.”
Assembly member Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh, called on Cuomo to step down and his chamber to move forward with next steps to remove the governor from office.
“It was appalling to read what I read – it’s just a sad day,” Jones said Tuesday in response to the report. “My thoughts are with the women who have been subjected to work in this environment and workplace. No one should have to deal with this, let alone in our state government and at the highest levels of our state government. We need to instill confidence in our residents and those who work in state government that we are going to do the right thing.
“Our judicial committee is conducting a separate investigation,” he added, “and they’ve moved things forward, but with the evidence we’ve heard today from that investigation, I would say we need to keep moving forward. forward as quickly as possible and get to a place where we are voting for deletion.
State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli repeated his call for Cuomo’s resignation and echoed Jones’ sentiments that Tuesday marked a sad day in state history.
“It’s a sad day for New York,” said DiNapoli. “The Attorney General’s report documents unacceptable workplace behavior in the Executive Chamber at the highest level of state management. The women who have come forward are courageous and they have been heard. As I said months ago, the governor should resign.
State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt R-North Tonawanda praised James and his team for refusing to be intimidated by Cuomo and his administration.
“New Yorkers have already been subjected to far too many lies, scandals and mischief perpetrated by this governor and his associates,” Ortt said in a statement. “It is time to put an end to this sad, vulgar and corrupt chapter in New York’s history, and to restore decency, honesty and responsibility to the highest office of our state. New York faces profound challenges, ranging from a wave of violence on our streets to a seriously battered economy. To effectively meet these challenges, we need a change of direction as quickly as possible. “
Senator Daniel Stec, R-Queensbury, was one of the first lawmakers to call on Cuomo to step down in February.
“Cuomo still hasn’t been able to do the right thing,” Stec said in a statement. “From the harassing behavior himself, the lies and false denials, to the intimidation of witnesses and the recent questioning of the independence of investigators, he has shown just how despicable he really is. Cuomo has called for an independent investigation, which is exactly what happened. Now the result has fallen, the truth has come out, and it is time for him to go. He, frankly, doesn’t deserve another day in our State Capitol.
“Years ago, I pushed for a constitutional amendment that would ensure that unethical elected officials could not cash in their state pensions,” he added. “Cuomo’s driving goes up to that level and then some. I hope he doesn’t see a dime of the public pension he doesn’t deserve and resign immediately so that our state can move forward without his intimidating, manipulative and unethical behavior.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.