Politics

New York Assembly will suspend Andrew Cuomo impeachment investigation after governor resigns

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Key Points
  • New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said an impeachment inquiry is no longer necessary since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation.
  • The Assembly was also advised by the Judiciary Committee that the state constitution does not authorize impeaching and removing an elected official who is no longer in office, Heastie said.
  • Cuomo announced his resignation earlier this week following the release of a damning report by the New York state attorney general's office that found he sexually harassed at least 11 women.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo listens during his announcement at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., May 11, 2021
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

The New York state Assembly will suspend its impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his resignation takes effect Aug. 25, Speaker Carl Heastie said Friday.

Cuomo announced his resignation earlier this week after the New York state attorney general's office  found that he sexually harassed at least 11 women and oversaw a hostile working environment in his office.

Heastie said there is no longer a need for the state Assembly Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation, which was authorized in March, due to the governor's resignation. The Judiciary Committee also advised the Assembly that the state constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office, Heastie said.

However, the committee's work over the last several months did uncover evidence related to allegations against the governor, Heastie said, which "could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned."

This includes evidence related to sexual harassment and misconduct, the misuse of state resources in relation to the governor's memoir, and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the coronavirus pandemic.

Heastie has asked the Judiciary Committee to turn over to "relevant investigatory authorities" all the evidence gathered during the inquiry.

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The state attorney general's office is investigating issues concerning Cuomo's memoir, while the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York is probing his administration's actions related to nursing home data.

Investigations into the governor's sexual misconduct are being carried out by local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions: Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau and Oswego.

"The people of this great state expect and deserve a government they can count on to always have their best interests in mind. Our government should always operate in a transparent, safe and honest manner," Heastie said in a statement Friday.

Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to the governor and one of the 11 women who came forward with sexual harassment allegations, was critical of the Assembly's decision.

"The Assembly's decision to call off its impeachment investigation is an unjust cop out. The public deserves to know the extent of the Governor's misdeeds and possible crimes. His victims deserve justice and to know he will not be able harm others," Boylan said in a Twitter post Friday.

In his resignation speech Tuesday, Cuomo said he decided to step down to avoid distracting the state as it grapples with the pandemic and other issues.

"Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government," Cuomo said Tuesday. "And therefore that is what I'll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you."

The governor has denied sexually harassing people, but conceded that some of his comments made women uncomfortable, and he apologized for that.

Cuomo dodging impeachment and removal means he still has the option of running for office again, including jumping into a future gubernatorial election.

Cuomo's reelection campaign account had just more than $18 million on hand after the first half of the year, overwhelmingly surpassing the funds of New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will finish the remainder of the governor's term when he steps down. Hochul intends to run for governor after she finishes out Cuomo's term.

Records show Cuomo's campaign paid more than $280,000 to his attorney's firm, Glavin PLLC, while he was under investigation by the New York state attorney general's office.

— CNBC's Dan Mangan and Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.

Correction: Lindsey Boylan is a former aide to the governor and one of the 11 women who came forward with sexual harassment allegations. An earlier version misspelled her name.