The New York State Assembly committee investigating accusations against Governor Andrew Cuomo will release a report on their findings, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie confirmed Monday. Now, ranking Republicans wonder why the report would be released if impeachment does not move forward.
“The Assembly Judiciary Committee will continue to review evidence and issue a final report on its investigation of Governor Cuomo,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Monday morning.
“In doing so, the committee will take all appropriate steps to ensure that this effort does not interfere with various ongoing investigations by the United States Attorney concerning nursing home data, the attorney general concerning the governor's memoir and local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions … regarding possible criminal incidents of sexual misconduct,” Heastie said.
Assemblyman Michael Montesano, the committee’s ranking Republican member, said a report was unexpected. Heastie had announced an end to an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo’s sexual misconduct last week.
“Even though the governor says he's resigning, he's still in office. So we could still file articles of impeachment today,” Montesano said.
He said Heastie and Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine were advised by Davis Polk, the law firm hired by the committee to facilitate the investigation. The firm said the Assembly would not be able to impeach Cuomo after his resignation takes effect on August 24.
Heastie and Lavine did not respond to requests for comment.
“To me, on his part it was very premature, what [Heastie] did,” Montesano said. “Why he did that, I have no idea.”
Montesano wondered why Heastie made the call without consulting the committee after he received the law firm’s opinion on the fate of impeachment.
“He should have allowed the committee to meet [on August 16], have the attorneys present the information to us,” Montesano said. “Then we could discuss our options.”
Republicans, and victims who accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment, wanted the Assembly committee to finish articles of impeachment against Cuomo. They called for the state Senate to punish him, even though the governor has just a week left before he steps down. Avoiding impeachment leaves the door open for Cuomo to run again, without the mark of the second governor in New York’s history to face a trial by state lawmakers.
“Thousands of lives have been destroyed by Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature must continue to move forward with impeachment to ensure he can never run for office again,” New York State Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy said in a statement, referring to the impeachment inquiry against the governor.
Montesano said based on scholarly interpretations of the single impeachment in state history, “once the person leaves office on the New York law, you cannot impeach the person.” In 1913, Governor William Sulzer was the first, and to date only, New York governor to be impeached and convicted on articles of impeachment. He falsified sworn statements of campaign expenditures.
“However, Cuomo has not left office yet. He only said he was,” he said. “He's still sitting out there [in the Governor’s Mansion].”
The Assembly report will be forwarded to law enforcement in Albany, Westchester and Nassau counties. All are pursuing criminal investigations into a state Attorney General investigation that found Cuomo broke state and federal law when he sexually harassed 11 women in public and at the office.
The report would also include inquiries into nursing home deaths records, a $5 million book deal and political favors to Cuomo's family.