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New York Assembly Begins Impeachment Investigation Of Cuomo

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, works in the New York State Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Albany, N.Y.
Hans Pennink
Associated Press
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, works in the New York State Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Albany, N.Y.

Saying that the “reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” Democratic leaders of the New York State Assembly announced Thursday that they will form a judiciary committee with subpoena powers to begin an impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The move comes after new allegations were reported in the Albany Times Union that Cuomo “aggressively groped” a female aide. Five other women have said the governor either sexually harassed or inappropriately touched them.

Republicans, who are in the minority in the Legislature, were the first to push for impeachment proceedings.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said it’s not only the multiple sexual harassment allegations. He said there’s also concern over accusations that the governor and his aides covered up the true number of nursing home deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, and questions over the safety of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River.

“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do as a Legislature if we don’t act on this now,” Barclay said.

Barclay said the process would be fair to the governor because he would be allowed to present his case during an impeachment trial held by the Senate.

The new allegations spurred 59 Democrats in the Legislature to write a letter asking for the governor’s immediate resignation. Freshman Democratic Sen. John Mannion of Syracuse, who signed the letter, said the accusations, if true, form a disturbing pattern of “predatory” behavior.

Mannion said he’s open to the Legislature conducting impeachment proceedings and is ready to do his part in the Senate.

“I will do my role as a New York state senator,” Mannion said.

He said he’d want to hear the evidence and keep an open mind.

“I would want to hear all of it, of course, and that’s where due process comes into play,” Mannion said. “People have rights, and things should be investigated, and evidence presented.”

In another sign of Cuomo’s rapidly dwindling support, the chair of the state Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs backed the Assembly’s effort. Jacobs, who was chosen by Cuomo to lead the party, said in a statement that “with the preponderance of these allegations” he agrees that “now is the time for the Legislature to commence its own review of these matters as a part of its Constitutional responsibilities.”

Jacobs also said that he is calling a meeting of the Democratic county chairs to hear what they have to say about the controversy.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.