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New York lawmakers’ tentative steps toward impeaching Cuomo draw fire

Some astounded after Assemblymember Charles Lavine said it will take weeks for the panel to recommend if charges warranted.

Published: August 9, 2021 8:31pm

Updated: August 9, 2021 10:57pm

(The Center Square) -

The chair of the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee, the group of lawmakers currently investigating Gov. Andrew Cuomo for possible impeachment, called the report that substantiated 11 women’s sexual harassment complaints against the embattled governor “comprehensive and thorough.”

However, some lawmakers and advocates were astounded after Assemblymember Charles Lavine said it will still take several weeks for the panel to determine if it should recommend that colleagues charge the governor.

The Glen Cove Democrat spoke at a news conference after the panel met Monday morning in closed session. He said the committee will meet again on the following two Mondays to hear from outside investigators on their findings. In addition, next Monday, committee members will receive “secure” access to the evidence of the independent investigation conducted through Attorney General Letitia James’ office.

In the weeks ahead, Lavine said the committee will hear from subject matter experts on issues related to the impeachment, including someone on sexual harassment matters.

While many have found the 165-page report released last week to be damning, and polls taken since its release show a majority of New Yorkers want Cuomo to resign or be impeached, Lavine told reporters that more needs to be done before they can proceed.

That includes confirming that the evidence obtained in the five-month investigation meets the criteria of impeachment.

“That’s a conclusion that is within the realm and the authority only of the New York State Assembly,” he said. “No one else.”

Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, called it “disgraceful” that the Democratic majority would not move forward. In a tweet Monday afternoon, he said the attorney general’s report was proof enough Cuomo was unfit for office.

“If a majority of their members have lost confidence in the governor’s ability to govern, what exactly is the holdup?” Ortt tweeted.

Others criticizing Lavine included the Sexual Harassment Working Group. It’s an organization established by seven women who served as legislative staffers in Albany and either endured, witnessed or reported harassing behavior by lawmakers or other staff.

The group accused lawmakers of dragging out the process with an inexcusable delay that could put more women at risk.

“Rather than moving quickly to introduce articles of impeachment, which would temporarily remove Gov. Andrew Cuomo from office and limit the harm he could potentially inflict on those around him, the Assembly has offered an ambiguous and tenuous timeline for action under the guise of transparency,” the group said in a statement.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said he disagreed with those claiming lawmakers were buying time for the governor. At the Monday afternoon news conference, he reiterated that Assembly Democrats have no confidence in Cuomo’s ability to lead.

However, he then added that he would not necessarily be beholden to his policy of needing 76 Democrats in support before letting the measure come to a vote.

Democrats currently hold 106 seats in the 150-seat chamber.

“I’m really trying to work through the Judiciary Committee, and they will then make recommendations to the full assembly body,” the speaker said. “It won’t be the Assembly Democratic caucus versus the Republican caucus.”

While Cuomo has refused calls to resign, the governor did lose a key member of his administration when Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa resigned Sunday night. The report indicated that DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, was involved in activities designed to undermine the credibility of former staffer Lindsey Boylan.

In addition, the New York Post reported Monday that two more women have contacted the attorney general’s office to offer more allegations against Cuomo. However, the office informed the women its case was closed and referred them to local authorities.

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