ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York state Assembly will suspend its impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo once he steps down, the chamber’s top Democrat said Friday.
Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that the Assembly Judiciary Committee had heard from its lawyers that it can’t impeach and remove an elected official no longer in office. Nevertheless, Heastie said, the evidence the committee had gathered “could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.”
Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday over sexual harassment allegations, days after he faced increasing pressure to resign or face the possibility of being ousted by the Democratic-controlled Legislature through the impeachment process. He said at the time that it would not take effect for 14 days. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will then assume the governorship.
The state attorney general last week released a scathing independent investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Since March, outside lawyers have been helping the committee conduct a wide-ranging investigation on whether there were grounds to impeach Cuomo, a Democrat. The announcement came on a day the Assembly had initially set as a deadline for Cuomo’s legal team to respond with any additional evidence refuting the allegations against him.
That included evidence related to sexual harassment, the misuse of state resources in conjunction with publication of the governor’s book on the pandemic, and “improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data.”
Lindsay Boylan, one of the 11 women who came forward with accusations against Cuomo, was critical of the Assembly’s decision.
Some Democrats, including Assemblymember Ron Kim, had urged the Assembly to impeach Cuomo anyway to prevent him from running for office again in New York.
Heastie said that he’s asked Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine to turn over “to the relevant investigatory authorities all the evidence the committee has gathered.”
“Let me be clear — the committee’s work over the last several months, although not complete, did uncover credible evidence in relation to allegations that have been made in reference to the governor,” Lavine said.
Some Judiciary committee members, including Democrats Phil Steck and Kenneth Braunstein, said Friday morning that they wanted the committee to at least release a report of their findings to the public.
Heastie’s statement released Friday didn’t say whether the committee would still publicize its findings.
The news announced Friday answers a key question looming over Albany’s Cuomo Crisis, as many wondered how the impeachment process would play out following the governor’s announced resignation.
More questions, though, remain due to the suspended investigation, including regarding the governor’s nursing home scandal. How the state will handle the situation that has not been fully probed or reconciled remains unknown; families of seniors who died of COVID during the time in which the controversial policy to move COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes after they had been hospitalized was in place have consistently called for action. Others have demanded that the state release new data on the number of nursing home residents that died of COVID-19 after allegations of a coverup by the Cuomo administration.
Heastie’s spokeperson Mike Whyland didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment Friday. Heastie on Monday estimated the probe has cost taxpayers “millions” so far, but didn’t respond to repeated requests by The Associated Press for an estimate.