New York state impeachment investigation into Cuomo is ‘nearing completion’

CNN —  

A wide-ranging New York state impeachment investigation into various allegations of misconduct against embattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is close to concluding, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In a letter sent Thursday, lawyers working for the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment probe informed Cuomo’s attorneys that the “Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client.”

The committee’s attorneys also invited Cuomo to submit additional evidence or written submissions to the committee by no later than August 13.

The news that the impeachment inquiry is close to wrapping follows the release of a damaging report Tuesday from the New York state attorney general’s office that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former state employees, and created a “hostile work environment for women.” The report also found Gov. Cuomo, who signed legislation that mandated sexual harassment training in New York State, didn’t recall taking the training himself except in 2019, and a certificate showing he completed that training was signed by a colleague.

An attorney for Cuomo, Rita Glavin,said Thursday that the AG’s investigators acted as “prosecutor, judge and jury” and that the governor will cooperate with the Assembly’s investigation.

Glavin said Cuomo “appreciates the opportunity to provide a submission to them” and accused the report of omitting “documents, emails, and testimony that contradict its narrative.”

Cuomo has denied the allegations made in the state attorney general report and has remained defiant against the mounting pressure to resign from high-profile Democrats including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Since March, the Judiciary Committee has been looking into Cuomo in four areas: the sexual harassment allegations, deaths in nursing homes from Covid-19, usurping state resources for personal gain, and allegations of a cover up over damaged bridge bolts on the Mario Cuomo Bridge, named after the former New York governor who is Andrew Cuomo’s father.

The committee attorneys will review any further materials Cuomo decides to submit, and then the Judiciary committee would meet and consider which articles of impeachment to formally recommend to the full Assembly, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Steck, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN’s Polo Sandoval Thursday.

“Assuming that the committee’s investigation is very similar to the findings of the attorney general, it would be hard to imagine that sexual harassment would not be a basis for impeaching this governor,” he said.

Steck added that the committee may be looking at additional impeachment charges.

“I’m hoping and believing that we’ll have this wrapped up from the Judiciary committee’s point of view in early September,” he said.

The committee is actively considering evidence and how it might apply to articles of impeachment, but will likely not formally present them to the Assembly until after that August 13 deadline depending on the governor’s response, according to a source familiar with the impeachment investigation.

Reacting to the attorney general’s report Tuesday, New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.”

He added that the Assembly would “move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”

New York’s state legislature is not currently in session, but lawmakers can call a special session at any time should they proceed with filing articles of impeachment and impeachment proceedings.

The Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the ongoing impeachment investigation.

A majority of New York state assembly members – 80 Democrats and Republicans – told CNN they would vote “yes” to impeach, if articles of impeachment are introduced. If the Assembly votes to impeach, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would become governor, stripping Cuomo of his decision-making abilities while he undergoes trial in the New York state Senate.

Sexual harassment training

During his years as governor, Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, has repeatedly spoken out against sexual harassment and misconduct.

In 2019, Cuomo signed into law what his office called “the nation’s most comprehensive sexual harassment package,” which required employers to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings. “There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time.

When new workplace harassment protections when into effect in October 2019, Cuomo said it was time for employers in the state to step up and make sure their employees were protected.

At a March 3 news conference, Cuomo said he had taken sexual harassment training – which is required for the state governor per a handbook for state agencies, the report said.

There was only one record of a completed training for Cuomo in 2019, the report says, but Stephanie Benton, the Director of the Governor’s Offices at the time, testified that she had signed it on his behalf. Cuomo himself testified that he didn’t remember taking sexual harassment training in any year other than 2019, according to the report.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Mark Morales, Polo Sandoval, Paul LeBlanc and Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.