The New York Assembly is launching an impeachment probe into Governor Andrew Cuomo days after a sixth woman came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D – Bronx) gave his chamber’s judiciary committee the green light to open a probe into Cuomo on Thursday amid mounting calls for the governor to resign.
‘The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,’ Heastie said in a statement. ‘The committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution.’
‘I have the utmost faith that the committee will conduct an expeditious, full and thorough investigation.’
He noted that the probe will not interfere with an independent investigation already underway by Attorney General Letitia James.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (left) on Thursday gave his chamber’s judiciary committee the green light to open an impeachment investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo (right), days after a sixth woman came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment
Heastie’s announcement came as a group of 59 Democrats in New York’s Senate and Assembly released a statement on Thursday demanding that Cuomo resign because he has ‘lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature’.
The group called for Cuomo – who has repeatedly said he will not resign – to be replaced by Lt Gov Kathy Hochul in the interests of ‘the future of New York State’.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, the letter also mentioned allegations that Cuomo sought to cover up COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes after a directive meant infected patients were sent back to facilities at the peak of the crisis.
If all of the Democrats who signed the letter join with state Republicans, they will pass the threshold needed to impeach Cuomo.
A group of 59 Senate and Assembly Democrats released a statement (pictured) on Thursday morning demanding Cuomo stand down and be replaced by Lt Gov Kathy Hochul in the interests of ‘the future of New York State’
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a longstanding rival of the governor’s, joined calls for him to resign on Thursday, saying ‘he can no longer serve as governor’ amid the ‘disgusting’ allegations.
The increased pressure on Cuomo followed the emergence of a sixth accuser earlier this week.
In what is the most damning accusation leveled at Cuomo to date, the woman, a former aide who has not been named, claimed he called her to his Executive Mansion in Albany last year, saying he needed help fixing his cellphone.
The pair were alone together when the woman said Cuomo closed the door, reached under her blouse and fondled her.
The three-term New York governor faces harassment allegations from five other women, including former aide Charlotte Bennett.
The 25-year-old’s attorney, Debra Katz, said in a statement released Wednesday evening that the latest allegations are ‘eerily similar’ to Bennett’s own story.
Bennett has said she was summoned to the Capitol on a weekend and left alone with Cuomo, who asked her for help with his cellphone. She has said Cuomo asked about her sex life and propositioned her.
At least five accusers – Bennett, Lindsey Boylan, Anna Liss, Karen Hinton and the unnamed woman – worked for the governor in Albany or during his time in President Bill Clinton’s Cabinet. Another, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that she met Cuomo at a friend’s wedding.
Cuomo has denied inappropriately touching anyone, but said he is sorry if he made anyone uncomfortable and didn’t intend to do so.
‘As I said yesterday, I have never done anything like this. The details of this report are gut-wrenching,’ Cuomo said through a spokesperson Wednesday evening.
‘I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the Attorney General’s report.’
Charlotte Bennett, 25, worked as an aide for Cuomo. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her ‘terrified’
Ana Liss, 35, (left) previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015 but claims he subjected her to sexual misconduct during her time in his administration. Karen Hinton (right) claims the governor summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape
Anna Ruch, 33, (left) claimed Cuomo behaved inappropriately at a Manhattan wedding in September 2019. Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and leg
The Albany Police Department on Thursday confirmed that it had been formally notified by Cuomo’s office over the sixth accuser’s claims, which it said may have ‘risen to the level of a crime‘.
A spokesperson for the department, Steve Smith, said that police had not received a formal complaint from the alleged victim, but they have reached out to a representative for her.
This doesn’t mean police have opened a criminal investigation, rather that the department has offered its services to the woman, ‘as we would any other report or incident’, Smith said.
Albany PD said it received the referral from a state official on Wednesday night, shortly after an article was published in the Times Union that detailed the woman’s accusations.
Smith told the New York Times that the call alerting Albany PD to the latest allegation against Cuomo had initially come from the New York State Police.
However, in a statement, Cuomo’s acting counsel, Beth Garvey, confirmed it was her who had contacted authorities after a lawyer for the female aide told the governor’s office that the aide did not want to file a report.
‘As a matter of state policy, when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department,’ Garvey clarified. ‘If they decline, the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves and inform the department of the allegation.’
‘In this case, the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information.’
While the police department is just following standard procedure by reaching out to the alleged victim, the situation could quickly lead to potential criminal exposure for Cuomo, should the woman wish to pursue charges for unwanted touching.