Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that he will be stepping down as governor of New York following a report from the state attorney general documenting multiple sexual-harassment allegations; his resignation will officially take effect in two weeks. With Cuomo on his way out and Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul set to finish out his third term as the state’s first female governor, many questions remain about both the impeachment probe already in progress in the State Legislature and Cuomo’s political future. Here’s what we know.
Can Cuomo still be impeached?
Initial statements from top Democratic lawmakers like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and State Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins after Cuomo’s announcement did not directly address the state of the impeachment process.
Before Tuesday’s news, the State Assembly made it clear that finishing up its investigation and drafting articles of impeachment were top priorities. The Judiciary Committee gave Cuomo and his team until Friday, August 13, at 5 p.m. to provide evidence. It was believed the articles could be drafted and voted on by next week, with a Senate trial beginning less than a month from then.
But with Cuomo set to leave office in 14 days, it’s unclear where the plans for impeachment stand. Although his resignation might have been Cuomo’s attempt to avoid a potential Senate trial, many still view impeachment as the only way to hold the governor accountable.
Democratic assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, in response to a now deleted tweet, said, “I believe we can still move forward with impeachment.”
Cynthia Nixon, who challenged Cuomo for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, said this was “the start of accountability” but more needs to be done.
“That means prosecuting Cuomo to the full extent of the law. And it means moving forward with impeachment, to bar him from running for statewide office ever again,” Nixon said in a tweet.
Can the State Senate bar Cuomo from holding office?
New York State law lays out the punishments that can be doled out in cases of impeachment. It reads:
Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, or removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any public office of honor, trust, or profit under this state; but the party impeached shall be liable to indictment and punishment according to law.
This wording suggests the State Senate could decide to hold a vote to disqualify an impeached political figure from holding another statewide office in addition to removing them from office. The phrasing is similar to what is written in the U.S. Constitution in regards to the impeaching of a president.
If no ban is instituted, Cuomo could run for a fourth term down the line, as the State of New York has no gubernatorial term limits.
What about the other Cuomo investigations?
The report that expedited calls for the governor to step down marked the end of Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into sexual-harassment allegations made against the governor. But James’s office was also looking into whether Cuomo had used state resources to produce his mid-pandemic book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic. Following the release of her report, James said, “The investigation with respect to the book and whether public resources were utilized is ongoing, and it’s separate and apart from this investigation.”
Cuomo is still facing several other investigations that appear to be ongoing despite his announced resignation.
The FBI is said to be investigating the administration’s handling of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes. This investigation appears to be ongoing as of August.
Additionally, the district attorneys of Albany, Westchester, Nassau, Manhattan, and Oswego counties have opened their own inquiries since the release of the attorney general’s report.