Can Gov. Cuomo be impeached?

Cuomo Under Fire

NEW YORK — A lot of New York state legislators are angry with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the way his administration put out information, accused of low-balling the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes.

Some of them are even grumbling about impeachment.

Even if that appears unlikely, here’s how it would work in New York.

Under the New York constitution, the Assembly has to vote by a simple majority to impeach the governor.

Then the case goes over to the State Senate for trial.

When it comes to federal officeholders, the U.S. Constitution lays out a standard for impeachment: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

New York’s constitution does not.

“There’s no simple standard to really measure impeachment under the New York State constitution, “ Democrat consultant Jack O’Donnell told PIX11.

O’Donnell wrote a book, “Bitten by the Tiger,” about the only governor ever to be impeached and removed from office in New York: William Sulzer in 1913.

O’Donnell has a sense of the standard legislators might use today.

“I think it really is conduct unbecoming to the office, whether that’s the governor, lieutenant governor or the courts,” he said.

In the Senate, senators — along with the judges of New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals — hear the case. The chief judge presides. Assemblymembers prosecute. And a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.

If a governor is removed from office, the lieutenant governor takes office to complete the term: in this instance, it would be Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

In the case of Cuomo, analysts generally see impeachment as an uphill battle — even Republicans.

“I think it’s unlikely. But I think it’s possible,” Republican State Sen. George Borelli of Jamestown told us. Borelli is one of just four senators who even voted against giving Cuomo emergency powers to deal with the pandemic. He saw them as too sweeping.

“There’s no doubt the governor has abused his powers,” he said. We’re seeing that play out now.”

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