When the State Assembly decided to launch an investigation into whether Governor Andrew Cuomo should be impeached, some critics questioned whether it was necessary, given that the attorney general had already initiated an independent investigation into the allegations, which had also been widely reported in the press.
Some of those calling for Cuomo’s immediate resignation believed the Assembly was handing the governor valuable time to survive.
And if time is what the governor wants, the chairman of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee confirmed on Tuesday that it will take plenty of it to investigate the more than half-dozen allegations against Cuomo.
“Given the breadth and the seriousness of the issues under investigation, we accept that the timing will be in months rather than weeks,” said Chuck Lavine, the Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair.
Lavine said that he alone made the decision to hire the law firm of Davis Polk to conduct the impeachment investigation. The firm has ties to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who was appointed by Cuomo. DiFiore’s husband, Dennis Glazer, was a partner at Davis Polk for 31 years, and his family still receives a hefty annual pension from the firm.
“There is a question of a combination of bias possibility and conflict of interest,” said Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who represents parts of Westchester. The issues have come around. Being from Westchester county, I am very familiar with Dennis Glazer and his reputation in the community.”
Lawyers from Davis Polk repeatedly denied any conflict, despite the fact that Cuomo tried earlier this month to have DiFiore choose who would investigate him as part of the attorney general’s probe. His bid ultimately failed and Letitia James made the decision by herself.
Senate Majority leader Andréa Stewart-Cousins was asked about concerns raised about the law firm by some of Cuomo’s alleged victims.
“It is extremely brave for them to come forward. We know how hard it is. And certainly I want to support whatever they are comfortable with,” said Stewart-Cousins. “It is certainly up to them whether or not they want to cooperate, and like I said, I respect their decision whichever way they go.”
Stewart-Cousin also bristled at a comparison made by some Assembly members between Governor Cuomo and Emmett Till, a Black teen who was lynched in 1955.
“He was lynched. He was an African-American teenager visiting relatives in Mississippi. I see no comparison,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Beyond all of the drama surrounding Cuomo, Stewart-Cousins also spoke about the state budget, which is due at the end of the month, noting that lawmakers are close to a deal legalizing recreational marijuana. She also says tax hikes on the wealthy are still being discussed.