WINDSOR TERRACE — The New York State Assembly took steps toward impeaching Andrew Cuomo as more details emerged about the governor’s alleged actions toward a female aide in an incident at the Executive Mansion in late 2020.
On March 11, lawmakers opened an impeachment investigation into the three-term governor. The Judiciary Committee will conduct the investigation and have subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that the accusations — leveled against the governor by six women — “are serious.”
Cuomo told reporters on March 12 that he has no intention of resigning. “I did not do what has been alleged. Period,” he said at a press conference conducted via a conference call with reporters. “I’m going to focus on my job.”
But later on Friday, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand joined a growing chorus of lawmakers calling for Cuomo’s resignation. “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign,” the statement reads in part.
The sixth woman, who has not been publicly identified, to accuse Cuomo of misconduct said the governor groped her.
The Times Union of Albany reported that the woman, who worked in his administration, was summoned by the governor to the executive mansion to help him with his cell phone. She charges that Cuomo reached under her shirt and touched her, the Times Union reported. The incident has been referred to the Albany Police Department.
Cuomo denied the allegation through a spokesman: “I have never done anything like this.”
The governor is also under fire for his handling of nursing home deaths during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. According to a report issued by State Attorney General Letitia James in January, his administration may have purposely undercounted the number of deaths tied to nursing homes in the state.
The Judiciary Committee will be looking at the nursing home scandal and the harassment allegations against Cuomo.
Meanwhile, James has authorized an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. The attorney general named Joon Kim, the former acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, an employment discrimination lawyer, to lead the investigation.
Cuomo has said he will fully cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation. He urged New Yorkers to “wait for the facts” before rendering a judgement on him.
The announcement that an impeachment probe had been authorized came on the same day that 59 Democrats in the Assembly and State Senate had signed a statement calling on Cuomo to resign. Several Republicans in the State Legislature were already on record demanding Cuomo’s resignation. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, has also said Cuomo should step down.
The statement, signed by Democrats, is a signal that Cuomo is rapidly losing support within his party. The 59 lawmakers charged that Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.”
Cuomo has also lost the support of several key Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Kathleen Rice. They issued statements urging the governor to step down.
Cuomo charged that lawmakers calling for him to resign are playing politics and bowing to cancel culture. “An opinion without facts is irresponsible,” he said.
If Cuomo resigns or is forced out of office, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become governor.
“We have a lieutenant governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term,” the statement from the state lawmakers goes on to say, “and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time. It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s statements at his March 12 press conference and the statement from Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.