The Assembly will be dropping its impeachment investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo now that he is resigning in less than 11 days.
This announcement came late in the day on Friday, just hours before a deadline impeachment investigators gave to Cuomo to submit any final documents related to the investigation.
Evidence that impeachment investigators had been gathering over the last five months will not be shared in a public report, according to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, but will be turned over to local authorities who are investigating Cuomo.
Right now, there are at least five active investigations by local law enforcement authorities in Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau and Oswego, looking into incidents of sexual misconduct that might have occurred in those jurisdictions.
However, many members on the Judiciary Committee, which was tasked with leading the impeachment investigation into Cuomo, say they are disappointed by this outcome.
“I am disappointed that the committee is not going to continue meeting,” Assemblyman Tom Abinanti said, who sits on the impeachment team. “I believe suspension of the committee's investigation is premature. Governor Cuomo has not yet left office. The committee should continue to meet and draft a report.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee was investigating the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, if Cuomo used state resources to write his pandemic book, if his office covered up the number of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths and more.
Erica Vladimer, a former legislative staffer who accused former Senator Jeff Klein of sexual harassment, says, as a survivor, she feels betrayed by this decision from the Assembly.
“Especially when you look at the speaker’s statement that said the report that they had showed they could have and probably would have brought forward articles of impeachment,” Vladimer said. “To put a claim like that out there and then choose not to move forward with it and to publicly say that they're not going to move forward with it in any way, sends a very, very dangerous message to staff.”
Heastie in his statement said after speaking with lawyers they decided the constitution prohibited them from impeaching a governor after he has resigned.
However, this has been debated by constitutional experts, and the only precedent set was over 100 years ago.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, who was one of the first lawmakers to push for justice on the nursing home issue, says he is upset the legislature is walking away from the investigation.
“We completely have become reduced to nothing and we should be ashamed of ourselves that we can't, even in the final hour of this darkest chapter in New York's history, can't be a proper check and balance on the executive,” Assemblyman Ron Kim said. “And as far as the constitution goes, this matter is fluid. We set the legal precedent in real time here.”
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay says after the millions spent on this investigation, taxpayers are owed results.
‘We have a job to do as a legislature, something in our purview is obviously impeachment, and that's where we were heading,” Barclay said. “Another interesting thing about this is if he's impeached, he can't run for office again. Now, albeit, that’s probably an unlikely event to happen, but who knows?”
The six Republican members who sit on the Assembly Judiciary Committee wrote a joint statement, saying they are “outraged” the investigation is being dropped, especially without being consulted.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the committee were not told in advance that the Assembly would be dropping its impeachment investigation into Cuomo.
“Let there be no mistake,” the six Assembly Republicans wrote. “This decision was reached by the Democrat leadership in the Assembly without consultation or approval of the entire Judiciary Committee. Not only does this represent an egregious insult to the countless victims of Gov. Cuomo’s actions, but it is offensive to the men and women who have invested their time and energy on a critical investigation into public corruption.”
Both Democrats and Republicans are calling on Heastie to issue a public report on all the facts and findings obtained during the impeachment investigation.
Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who was leading the impeachment investigation, also announced that the scheduled meeting with impeachment lawyers on Monday has now been cancelled.
This was the day the Assembly was set to review background evidence from the attorney general’s investigation, which substantiated claims of at least 11 women who say Cuomo sexually harassed them. This will no longer be happening.