Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul who will replace Cuomo if he resigns or is impeached, which is becoming increasingly likely
The woman who could replace Andrew Cuomo in the event that he is impeached or stands down is already making preparations on whom to hire should she enter office, believing it to be a prospect that could happen ‘within weeks’.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, 62, would become the first female governor in New York’s history if she replaces Cuomo.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Hochul is said to have spoken on the phone with advisers seeking their guidance over the weekend, including who she should hire for key jobs and which appointees hired by Cuomo she should keep.
Hochul is first in the line of succession, and while she is well known in the western part of New York state, she has not been a part of the governor’s inner circle.
On Sunday, it was reported that Cuomo and his aides had been trying to cut a deal with his party whereby he would not run for a fourth term as governor next week, in return for avoiding an impeachment trial. Those talks appear to have foundered, with the governor’s top aide Melissa DeRosa announcing her resignation Sunday.
One official in her office explained how Hochul had been receiving advice from various sources while adding that the role of lieutenant governor was also to be prepared to take over as governor.
‘Lots of people have been calling Kathy. She’s been listening to their advice. Kathy has been an elected official for a long time. She has a lot of relations across the state. It’s her job as lieutenant governor to be prepared to be governor,’ a source told the New York Post.
Hochul was a former US representative and Erie County clerk. She was Cuomo’s running mate in 2014 and 2018, has declined to publicly call on the three-term Democrat to resign since his sexual harassment scandal exploded in late February.
Last week, Hochul said the report released by Attorney General Letitia James last Tuesday ‘documented repulsive and unlawful behavior by the governor’ and that ‘no one is above the law’, but she did not call for his resignation.
The report detailed findings that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including close aides.
On Monday, the Assembly judiciary committee will meet to offer an update on the impeachment investigation. Cuomo has until next Friday to submit evidence in his defense.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seen at the Governor’s mansion. Last week, an investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women in and out of state government
Demonstrators rally for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in front of his Manhattan office in New York last spring
If the Assembly decides to impeach Cuomo, Hochul will automatically take over as governor pending the outcome of a trial in the state Senate.
Scores of Democrats, including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some past Cuomo loyalists, have urged him to leave office or face an impeachment battle he probably cannot win.
About two-thirds of state Assembly members have already said they favor an impeachment trial if he refuses to resign. Nearly all 63 members of the state Senate have called for Cuomo to step down or be removed.
Some lawmakers want an impeachment vote in days, but committee members say the probe could wrap up in a month. State law requires at least 30 days between an Assembly impeachment vote and Senate impeachment trial.
‘My sense is from what I’m hearing is he’s still looking for ways to fight this and get his side of the story out,’ state Democratic party Chairman Jay Jacobs said in an interview with The Associated Press. But Jacobs added: ‘I just think that he’s going to, at some point, see that the political support is just not anywhere near enough to even make an attempt worthwhile.’
The governor’s lawyers have promised what will likely be a drawn-out fight to stay in office.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks on the phone while walking with his dog Captain at the New York state Executive Mansion on Saturday
‘I am not aware of the governor having plans to resign,’ Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin told CNN on Saturday.
Cuomo – who for months said the public would be ‘shocked’ once he shared his side of the story – has not spoken publicly since the release of a 168-page report written by two independent attorneys who were selected by the state attorney general to investigate.
A female executive assistant who accused Cuomo of groping her said Sunday that what the governor did to her was a crime. She was the first woman to file a criminal complaint against Cuomo.
In her first public interview in which she identified herself, Brittany Commisso told ‘CBS This Morning’ and the Albany Times-Union that the governor ‘needs to be held accountable.’
Commisso has said Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her when they were alone in a room at the Executive Mansion last year and on another occasion rubbed her rear end while they posed for a photo.
‘He broke the law,’ she said in an excerpt of an interview scheduled to be aired in full on Monday.
Cuomo has flat-out denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately, but he acknowledged hugging and kissing aides and other individuals.
Brittany Commisso, left, is seen answering questions during an interview with CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan on CBS This Morning on Monday
On Sunday night, Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa resigned after admitting ‘the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.’
DeRosa, 38, who serves as Secretary to the Governor of the State of New York, announced her departure in a statement. Her departure is likely to hinder Cuomo’s desire to remain in the top job.
‘It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of New York for the past 10 years,’ DeRosa said in a statement. ‘New Yorkers’ resilience, strength and optimism through the most difficult times has inspired me every day.
‘Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues.’
Andrew Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, pictured on August 2, announced her resignation Sunday night
As for Hochul, she is the granddaughter of Irish immigrants, who was handpicked by the embattled governor and has now turned against him.
Throughout the pandemic, she has taken a quiet backseat to her boss’s very public profile after being cherry-picked by him in 2014.
She won another political role in 2011 by replacing Rep. Chris Lee, her married male colleague who was caught soliciting women for sex on Craigslist.
Hochul was only in his seat for a year before being replaced. Previously, she ran upstate as a more conservative candidate and was once endorsed by the NRA.
In 2007, when she was the Erie County Clerk, she went against the then Governor Elliot Spitzer’s effort to give all undocumented migrants driver’s licenses.
She was endorsed again in 2012, when running against Chris Collins, but lost that election.
Hochul was chosen by Cuomo in 2014, replacing former Lieutenant Gov. Lieutenant-Governor Robert Duff, and was re-elected along with Cuomo in 2018.
Hochul grew up in upstate New York, the daughter of a steelworker father once so poor his family had to live in a trailer, before he became a successful businessman.
She has served Cuomo loyally but this week, as the Attorney General found him guilty of sexually harassing at least 11 women, she turned on him.
‘The AG’s investigation has documented repulsive & unlawful behavior by the Governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women & admire their courage coming forward.
‘No one is above the law. Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps.
‘Because Lieutenant Governors stand next in the line of succession, it would not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment,’ she tweeted.
Hochul was handpicked by Cuomo in 2014 to stand as his running mate. At the time, she’d replaced another male colleague – Chris Lee- who was ousted for soliciting sex from women on Craigslist. The pair were re-elected in 2014
Hochul – who grew up in upstate New York, the daughter of a steelworker father, has served Cuomo loyally but this week, as the Attorney General found him guilty of sexually harassing at least 11 women, she turned on him.
Hochul’s husband is William J. Hochul Jr, a prosecutor of 23 years whose convictions include those of the Lackwanna Six – six American men who joined al-Qaeda.
Her husband is William J. Hochul Jr, a prosecutor of 23 years whose convictions include those of the Lackwanna Six – six American men who joined al-Qaeda.
In 2011, Hochul replaced Rep. Chris Lee who was caught soliciting women for sex on Craigslist despite being married
He is now a private attorney but was previously the United States attorney for the Western District of New York.
The pair live in Buffalo in a $800,000, three-bedroom apartment, according to public records.
Their kids are in their early 30s. Katie, or Caitlin, works for PR firm Concepts Inc whose past clients include The Gates Foundation and the Justice Department.
Her son, William Hochul III, is a DC lawyer.
Unlike Cuomo – whose father was a governor and who grew up in wealth and New York society – Hochul’s family are Irish immigrants.
On her public bio, she talks about how her mother and father lived at one time in a trailer on the grounds of the steel plant where her father worked in Buffalo.
Hochul was endorsed by the NRA in 2007 when she was running as Erie County Clerk but she has since become decidedly anti-gun and is shown above at a 2019 rally against gun violence. In the background is AG Letitia James – who found Cuomo guilty in her report this week
She describes herself as ‘progressive’ and is keenly pro-choice and pro-LGBTQ rights. Hochul is well-liked upstate, where Cuomo’s popularity has evaporated.
‘She is probably one of the most down-to-earth people that you could ever meet.
Cuomo is clinging on despite being told to resign. He now faces three criminal investigations, impeachment and lawsuits
‘She’s gone to great heights in government, yet one-to-one, she is so accessible and so warm and just a very generous person.
‘She’s always able to help — particularly women, too,’ Assembly member Karen McMahon told Politico recently.
‘She works hard, she listens to people, she cares. In any state, you want for your lieutenant governor somebody who can do the job of governor. It doesn’t always happen, but in Kathy Hochul’s case she has the ability to do the job if it comes to it,’ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan told The Wall Street Journal.
The Assembly Committee that is determining whether or not to launch impeachment proceedings against Cuomo will meet on Monday.
Then, it would require an Assembly vote with a simply majority to kick off an impeachment trial.
It would then also require the conviction of a High Court of Impeachment, consisting of seven Court of Appeals judges and all of New York’s sitting state senators, to convict him.
The process may take months and while it plays out, Hochul would be drafted in to replace Cuomo on the day-to-day running of the state.
Democrats are calling for Cuomo to resign before that happens but he is digging his heels in, insisting he is innocent.