Contrary to the Democratic leaders' claim, the New York state legislature is not stripping Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his COVID-19 emergency powers, says New York State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt.
"The bill that they're going to be advancing, believe it or not, doesn't strip him of his powers. It actually — it removes the sunset from the current revision, which was April 30. It removes any sunset. And it allows him to continue to modify or reissue existing directives, of which there are about 100 currently outstanding. So, Senate Democrats, you know, this is the typical, 'We're gonna pee on your shoes and tell you that it's raining,'" Ortt told the John Solomon Reports podcast.
However, Ortt believes that if either the Department of Justice or New York State Attorney General investigations into Cuomo produce criminal charges or enough evidence, then impeachment should be the next step.
"I think that we are moving in that direction," Ortt said regarding impeachment.
"Impeachment, much like the U.S. House, U.S. Senate, the way it works here, the New York Assembly would be the house that would have to initiate articles of impeachment. I think that's a certain threshold. We'll see what these investigations are — there's two investigations going on," Ortt said.
"There's the criminal probe from the DOJ and the FBI. You know, now you have the new investigation from the Attorney General. Either one of those, you know, could result in either criminal charges or certainly enough evidence there that I would think would warrant, then, impeachment."
Ortt explained that the best course of action would be for Cuomo to resign.
"But the ... proper thing to do, you asked at the top of the show, he should resign — that would allow the needs of New Yorkers, and we're talking about vaccine rollouts," Ortt said.
"We're talking about reopening this state. We're talking about getting people back to work, we're talking about getting us through this pandemic, and the budget and the fiscal crisis that it's caused — how can he do that, reasonably, and be focused where his focus should be, on the people of this state and not on his own legal troubles in the investigations? I don't believe he can. And that's why I think somebody else, the Lieutenant Governor, who's also a Democrat, but she needs to step in there and be able to do the job that New Yorkers expect their governor to do at this time."
Cuomo said in a press conference on Wednesday that he will not resign and has "never touched anyone inappropriately."
He added, "I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it."
The Democratic New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, is investigating the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo by two of his former aides. On Sunday, she said that an outside firm would be deputized to investigate the allegations.
The FBI is also investigating Cuomo, but for his involvement in the COVID-19 nursing home deaths after he ordered coronavirus-positive patients to be sent back to nursing homes.