On Monday, Republicans in the New York State Assembly announced an impeachment resolution against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), saying the governor has lost “credibility and trust” and has therefore lost the ability to lead the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Republicans only have a minority in both the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate, many Democrats have demanded Cuomo’s resignation, and the governor has refused to step down.
“We’re going to introduce this resolution because we believe the time has come,” State Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a press conference on Monday. “In order to lead this great state as governor, you need to have credibility and trust … and unfortunately, we feel the governor has lost that and now has an inability to lead.”
“I don’t think I’ve used the term ‘bombshell’ especially this week, any time more in my life, it has been one bombshell after another,” Barclay said, referencing the many scandals Cuomo has faced in the past few weeks.
“We had the AG report come out saying that the governor was underreporting nursing home deaths by as much as 50%,” Barclay said. “We had that secret political meeting where he had his top aides say they weren’t reporting the nursing home deaths because they were worried about a Department of Justice investigation—they were worried about the political fallout.”
Barclay referenced “the bullying and the harassing of sitting members of the state legislature. Then we had five courageous women come forward to talk about their abuse, sexual harassment, and other abuse at the hands of the governor.”
“As you heard the governor say yesterday, I’m not going to resign, if you want to get rid of me, start impeachment,” Barclay said, referencing the governor’s remarks to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D). Cousins had said Cuomo should resign.
“New York is still in the midst of the pandemic and is still facing the societal, health, and economic impacts of it [the virus],” Stewart-Cousins said. “We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Barclay noted that over the weekend, “30 members of the assembly majority” called for Cuomo to resign. Six Democrats had issued a joint letter calling for his resignation last Tuesday.
Democrats dominate the New York legislature, with 107 seats in the 150-seat Assembly and 40 seats in the 63-seat state Senate. According to Fox News, a total of 37 lawmakers from either chamber have called on Cuomo to resign and ten have called for impeachment.
The Republicans, in the minority, cannot force the Assembly to take up the impeachment resolution, but they can present impeachment as the option for Democrats who have publicly called on Cuomo to resign.
“We hope that the political pressure keeps getting greater and greater,” Barclay said. “We’re hoping by doing this, we’re going to keep reminding the majorities that it’s time for them to act.”
He added: “If they really believe in resignation, why not start the impeachment process?”
Two massive scandals have engulfed Cuomo in the past few months.
At the end of January, Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a damning report showing that the state government had undercounted COVID-19 deaths connected to nursing homes. Under Cuomo’s policy forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19-positive patients, the state sent 9,000 COVID-19 patients to nursing homes and some of the homes complained to the governor that half of their staff were sick or home with the virus.
Last month, a Democratic lawmaker let slip to The New York Post that the secretary to the governor confessed to having lied about COVID-19 nursing home death data because the data could be “used against us” in a federal probe. Even worse, Cuomo’s aides rewrote a COVID-19 report from state health officials to conceal the true number of nursing home patients who died from COVID-19. The FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York have reportedly opened an investigation.
New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), went public saying Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him if he continued to criticize the governor’s nursing home scandal.
This nursing home scandal burst the dam wide open. No fewer than five women have come forward accusing Cuomo of sexual assault.
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide, went public in December but gained attention last month. She claimed the governor “has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected. … He used intimidation to silence his critics.” Boylan claimed Cuomo approached her numerous times and once kissed her on the lips.
Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser, said Cuomo asked her personal questions about her sex life. Anna Ruch, a former Obama staffer, said Cuomo grabbed and kissed her at a 2019 wedding in Manhattan — and a photograph shows an extremely uncomfortable Ruch with Cuomo’s hands on her cheeks. Karen Hinton, a married woman and former press aide to the governor, said that Cuomo embraced her in his “dimly lit” hotel room in 2000. She left before anything else happened. Anna Liss, another former aide, recounted Cuomo asking her if she had a boyfriend, touching her on her lower back, and kissing her hand.
Cuomo has denied the allegations, insisting that he never intentionally made anyone feel uncomfortable. Yet the scandals continue to mount, and it seems the governor’s days in office may be numbered.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.