ALBANY, N.Y. — The chair of the state Assembly’s judiciary committee said it could take “months” to determine whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be impeached after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct and questions remain about his administration’s undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
The probe will focus on four areas of concern.
Chair Charles Lavine said lawyers on behalf of the committee will meet with witnesses and examine documents to “assess whether there’s evidence that the governor has engaged in conduct that justifies articles of impeachment.”
Key issues for the legislative impeachment probe remain unresolved, but there are four main areas of concern.
Lavine said the areas of focus of the impeachment investigation will include but not be limited to:
- The sexual harassment claims made against Gov. Cuomo.
- The withholding of COVID-19 information by the Cuomo Administration, namely information about nursing home deaths.
- Bridge safety, following been allegations corners were cut in building the Mario Cuomo bridge.
- If Cuomo directed or knew of his staff suppressing investigations related to sexual harassment, nursing homes or bridge safety.
The majority of state lawmakers and members of New York’s Congressional Delegation have called on Cuomo to resign.
The three attorneys leading the investigation were announced last week. There was immediate concerns about possible conflicts of interest raised. A former partner at Davis Polk is married to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, a political ally of Cuomo he appointed to the New York Court of Appeals.
The Davis Polk team pushed back on the notion of a conflict during Tuesday’s hearing, saying the retired partner has not been with Davis Polk since 2012 and has not had any involvement in the firm since.
There is also concern the Assembly investigation will not get cooperation from Cuomo’s accusers, including Lindsay Boylan. She already called it a “sham investigation” on Twitter.
“We understand question have been raised,” said Martine Beamon of Davis Polk. “But we’re hopeful that through this process… that ultimately witnesses will be comfortable and will wish to speak to us independently.”
Beamon and her associates promised a level of sensitivity when interviewing women who have accused Cuomo of sexually harassing them, especially considering they are being asked to re-tell their stories multiple times to multiple investigators. The Davis Polk team further said it will work in concert with the Attorney General’s investigation into the sexual harassment claims where necessary and appropriate, while maintaining independence.
Staten Island and South Brooklyn Assembly Republican Michael Tannousis, a former prosecutor, zeroed in on this issue during the hearing and said after: “My concern is the timeline here. I just want to make sure things are done in an expedient way and that one investigation is not overshadowed by another investigation.”
Lavine said there is no firm timeline for the investigation, but told members of his committee to think “in terms of months” not weeks.