ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A majority of state Assembly members help starting impeachment proceedings in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he doesn’t resign over investigative findings that he sexually harassed a minimum of 11 ladies, in line with an Associated Press depend Wednesday.
At least 82 of the physique’s 150 members have mentioned publicly or advised The AP that they favored initiating the method of ousting the third-term Democratic governor if he doesn’t give up. A easy majority of Assembly members is required to authorize an impeachment trial.
Cuomo has denied that he made any inappropriate sexual advances and insisted the findings didn’t replicate the information. But whereas political strain grew, so did the potential for felony fees in opposition to Cuomo, who basked in nationwide consideration final 12 months because the blunt-but-relatable voice of combating the coronavirus in an early U.S. hotspot, solely to see his political future imperiled a 12 months later.
District attorneys in Manhattan, suburban Westchester and Nassau counties and the state capital of Albany mentioned they requested for investigative supplies from the inquiry, overseen by Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James.
James’ investigation discovered that Cuomo had violated civil legal guidelines in opposition to sexual harassment. Making no conclusions about whether or not he must be criminally charged, investigators left the door open for native prosecutors to deliver circumstances.
“We are reviewing the deeply disturbing findings,” mentioned Joyce A. Smith, the appearing district legal professional in Long Island’s Nassau County. She pledged her workplace would “thoroughly and expeditiously investigate any potential crimes” that occurred there.
After James launched her report Tuesday, Democrats from the statehouse to the White House known as for Cuomo to go, with President Joe Biden saying the governor ought to resign. But he confirmed no indicators of heeding them, saying that some episodes described within the report by no means occurred, others have been misconstrued or mischaracterized and the entire train was tainted.
“Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation,” he mentioned in a recorded video response.
Assembly Democrats, who lead the chamber, debated nearly for hours Tuesday about whether or not to question the governor now, wait to see whether or not he resigns, or give the Assembly Judiciary Committee time to wrap up its wide-ranging investigation into matters from sexual misconduct to the Cuomo administration’s monthslong obfuscation of the whole variety of nursing home residents who died from COVID-19.
At least 40 of the Assembly members who say they’re prepared to start out impeachment proceedings are Democrats.
As New York went by a harrowing coronavirus surge in spring 2020, Cuomo’s each day briefings garnered him followers across the nation and an International Emmy Award. Casting himself as a tough-minded but compassionate chief who steered the state by its greatest public well being emergency in a century, the governor even wrote a e-book about it.
Now, that e-book itself is among the many focuses of investigations into Cuomo, with James analyzing the position a few of his aides performed in producing it.
As complaints and investigations accrued in current months, Cuomo grew to become an embattled however unabashed determine. He typically nonetheless touts the state’s dealing with of the pandemic regardless of now-rising an infection charges amid a nationwide surge within the extra infectious delta variant.
If the Assembly votes to question Cuomo, the state Senate may launch an impeachment trial “in weeks,” Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris advised The Associated Press.
Gianaris, a Democrat, mentioned the chamber has been making ready for a possible impeachment trial for months.
“We’ll be ready to go if and when the impeachment articles are sent over,” he mentioned. “It could happen very quickly.”
The 150-member Assembly would wish 76 votes to question Cuomo and ship articles of impeachment to the Senate. The Assembly consists of 106 Democrats, 43 Republicans and one Independent.
At least two dozen Assembly Democrats known as for impeachment in public statements issued Tuesday, in line with a tally compiled by The Associated Press. Some mentioned the Assembly ought to vote for impeachment now, whereas others mentioned the chamber ought to impeach Cuomo if he doesn’t resign.
Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay urged Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, to convene an emergency particular session to vote to question Cuomo.
James’ investigation, performed by two exterior attorneys, painted what she known as a “clear picture” of a governor who touched or made sexually inappropriate feedback to a sequence of girls, lots of whom labored for him. One is a state trooper whom Cuomo efficiently sought to have assigned to his safety element.
While lots of the allegations in opposition to Cuomo contain verbal feedback, some ladies have additionally alleged that he gave them undesirable kisses or touches. One aide mentioned the governor reached beneath her shirt and groped her breast on the governor’s mansion in Albany.
The governor denied Tuesday that he ever inappropriately touched anybody, mentioned that he by no means supposed hurt and forged doubt on the political motivations of investigators, accusers and critics.
To date, Cuomo has rebuffed calls to step down and has moved forward with plans to run for a fourth time period in 2022.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York, David Klepper in Providence, R.I., and Mike Catalini in Trenton, N.J., contributed.
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