New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is under heavy pressure to resign after the New York Attorney General announced that the five-month probe created to investigate the multiple sexual harassment allegations against the governor found out that Cuomo had in fact sexually harassed a dozen of women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.
Cuomo, who has also been accused of deliberately covering up the number of COVID deaths in NY nursing homes, delivered a blistering (and strange) rebuke of the charges saying he will not resign over the now confirmed allegations of sexual harassment levied against him, saying that the “facts are much more different than what is being portrayed”.
The now-disgraced governor also released an 85-page long written defense made by his lawyer, bizarrely including at least 24 pages of photos of the governor hugging and kissing both politicians and regular people during his time in the public eye, his lawyer also included photos of public figures like former presidents Obama and Bush hugging hurricane victim, arguably as a way to showcase the normality of the Governor’s behavior.
Democrats turn agianst Cuomo
Despite the fiery rebukes made by the governor, his political position is growingly becoming untenable, as fellow Democrats have joined the chorus of voices calling for the resignation of Cuomo and others hinting at other procedures to end his stay at the governor’s mansion early.
Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have all called for the immediate resignation of Cuomo. Most notably, the President of the United States has also openly called for the resignation of Gov. Cuomo at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Cuomo’s Democratic peers in New York have also turned their backs on the governor.
Lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul (second in line of succession) tweeted that not only she believes the accusations against Cuomo but that she firmly believes “no one is above the law” and that it is the duty of the New York Assembly to determine the next steps.
New York’s Assembly Speaker, Carl Heastie, has said that he believes Cuomo “can no longer remain in office” and that he will be ready to finalize the impeachment investigation in the lower house “as quickly as possible”.
Labor unions, Cuomo’s biggest allies, have also issued a statement condemning the actions of Cuomo and calling for him to either resign or for the NY assembly to take actions to “bring accountability” to the governor’s office rapidly.
With the brunt of the Democratic national leadership openly calling Cuomo to resign and with many of his local partners also distancing themselves from him, many are asking themselves what could happen in the following days.
Resign or be resigned: Cuomo’s two options
The stark reality for the governor is that he can either leave in his own accord via resignation or dare his party to impeach and convict him, throwing him out of office. Cuomo might be hoping that the optics of Democrats revolting against a fellow party member and expelling him from power would be messy enough in order to convince enough Democrats to not convict him.
However, this could be wishful thinking from the governor. The Democratic party has styled itself as the defender of woman’s rights and of sexual abuse victims, it would be extremely hypocritical for the party to not reprimand a governor who has sexually harassed at least a dozen of women during his tenure.
Additionally, almost the entirety of the Democratic party leadership (both national and regional) have already said they think Cuomo should no longer be governor, with many floating up the possibilities of a quick impeachment to bring the disgraced New York politician down. If Cuomo maintains his determination to not resign, then the New York Legislature would surely start impeachment proceedings.
According to the New York Constitution, the procedure will be as follow: A simple majority of the lower house would have to vote in favor of impeachment (most likely after the Judiciary Committee ends its investigation on Cuomo), then the case would be brought up to the “High Court of Impeachment” which is composed by all state senators (except the majority leader) and the seven members of New York’s highest court, and in order for a governor to be removed from office two-thirds of this body would have to vote to convict.
The procedure will certainly be groundbreaking and almost unprecedented as only one governor has been previously impeached in the history of New York. William Sulzer was quickly impeached and removed from office in 1913, after he upset the bosses of the corrupt Democratic machinery known as Tammany Hall, he barely served 10 months as a governor before being impeached.
Currently, Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in both the lower and upper houses of the New York State legislatures with 107 out of the 150 of the states in the State Assembly, and 43 out of the 63 state senators.
Since it is expected that Republicans would vote in favor of impeaching a Democrat governor, the impeachment vote would only need 32 Democratic votes in the Assembly to get it to the next phase. In order for Cuomo to survive removal from office, he would then need the support of at least 24 votes in the “High Court of Impeachment” to vote against his removal.
Cuomo might be willing to hope that a lengthy trial in the High Court of Impeachment would give him enough time to peel off some votes and retain his office until the end of his term next year, however, it is starting to look unlikely that Cuomo will be able to survive this vote.
Whether the governor (who last year had the praise of the mainstream media) would decide to leave the office on his own terms and resing or force his party to kick him out of the governor’s mansion remains to be seen. What is clear is that it looks like Cuomo’s reign over New York politics is coming to an end, that is saying nothing of possible criminal prosecutions down the road.