New York Governor Andrew Cuomo watches as he makes remarks on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) at Riverside Church in New York on November 15, 2020.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
The committee responsible for deciding whether to indict New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expects the review of the evidence to be completed within weeks, the committee chairman said Monday.
“Starting next week, committee members will have access to full evidence in a safe place,” said Charles Lavine, Democratic chairman of the State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
“We anticipate that this process will be completed very soon,” said Lavine about the reporting period. “When I say ‘very soon’ I mean several weeks.”
After the review period, the committee members will make a recommendation to the entire state assembly as to whether an impeachment procedure should be initiated.
There are already strong indications that the Committee will recommend Cuomo be charged.
The committee opened its impeachment proceedings in March after Cuomo’s initial allegations of sexual harassment were made. The investigation was conducted in parallel with an investigation led by Attorney General Letitia James.
Last Tuesday, James said an investigation into her office found that Cuomo sexually molested at least 11 women and retaliated against one of them, a former employee, who complained about his behavior.
The response to the James report was swift and clear: within hours, calls for Cuomo’s resignation came from the entire state and the Democratic national political firmament, including President Joe Biden.
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However, Cuomo has so far shown no signs of planning to step down.
Lavine took care on Monday to outline each step of the impeachment process, describing what would undoubtedly be a difficult and potentially humiliating experience for Cuomo.
The committee chair also made it clear that if Cuomo were to step down before impeachment proceedings began, he would be spared the ordeal of the process.
If the governor resigns, “impeachment proceedings themselves would be questionable,” said Lavine.
The committee’s month-long investigation was conducted by attorneys at law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and included several other allegations of wrongdoing by Cuomo and his closest associates.
This includes whether the governor’s staff attempted to hide or alter data on coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes; whether Cuomo used his position as governor to secure Covid vaccines for close friends and family; and whether he misused government funds to promote a book he wrote in 2020 about leadership.
Cuomo and his staff have denied these allegations.
Last week, the governor’s attorneys released a formal response to James’ report refuting certain elements. They argued that women’s claims that Cuomo grabbed and touched them inappropriately were just innocent efforts to be kind and something all politicians do.
The evidence from the various items of inquiry made available to members of the judiciary committee totaled more than 500,000 pages, Lavine said on Monday.
Given the sensitivity of the information, Lavine said it would only be available for viewing in a designated room.