WINDSOR TERRACE — The walls appear to be closing in on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In a fast-moving series of developments since the Aug. 3 release of Attorney General Letitia James’ report detailing allegations of sexual harassment committed by Cuomo, the New York State Legislature moved closer to impeaching the governor as calls by lawmakers for his resignation increased.
Three days after the attorney’s general’s report was released, the Albany County sheriff’s office said it had received a criminal complaint against Cuomo from a former executive assistant who accused him of groping her.
The executive assistant, Brittany Commisso, broke her silence days later in an interview with CBS This Morning: “I know the truth. He knows the truth. I know what happened and so does he. To me, this was a dream job. And it, unfortunately, turned into a nightmare.”
“Maybe to him, he thought this was normal. But to me and the other women that he did this to … well, it was not normal,” she added. “It was not welcomed. And it was certainly not consensual.”
On Aug. 8, Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s secretary who is considered one of his most trusted aides, resigned. DeRosa was mentioned numerous times in the attorney general’s report, which detailed her efforts to corral women to sign a letter defending Cuomo, as well as her part in an effort to discredit one of the governor’s accusers.
There are also signs that Cuomo is rapidly losing public support.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Aug. 6, 70% of New Yorkers think the governor should resign and 55% believe he should face criminal charges. Another 63% of those polled said that if Cuomo does not resign, he should be impeached and removed from office.
Cuomo’s lawyers rebutted the accusations contained in James’ report and charged that the investigators were biased against him from the start.
“I know the difference between putting together a case against a target versus doing independent fact-finding with an open mind,” lawyer Rita Glavin said at a news conference on Aug. 6.
The New York Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which is conducting an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo, notified the governor on Aug. 6 it was giving him until Aug. 13 to submit evidence rebutting the accusations against him.
The imposition of a deadline was seen by many experts as a sign the committee was wrapping up its inquiry and could soon take a vote on whether to impeach the governor.
Under New York’s Constitution, the Assembly would draft articles of impeachment and a trial would take place in the Senate. The senators and the seven judges who sit on the New York State Court of Appeals would serve as the jury. Senate Majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would not be allowed to be a juror, since she is in the line of succession.
A simple majority vote is necessary for the Assembly to bring forth articles of impeachment. In the Senate, a two-thirds majority vote would be needed for conviction and removal from office.
During the impeachment process, Cuomo would have to step down temporarily from his duties as governor. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would assume those duties.
No timetable has been set, but the impeachment inquiry could be wrapped up in four weeks and a trial could begin in October.
Cuomo, a three-term governor, sexually harassed multiple women and retaliated against one of them for going public with her allegations, according to a 165-page report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. The investigation also found that Cuomo’s actions violated state and federal laws.