It’s a real foot race at this point between the Cuomo boys to see who’ll lose his job first. On the one hand, we seem to be gaining completely new and independent grounds for impeaching Andrew each week.
On the other hand, Chris’s ratings are tanking and CNN’s embarrassment at his softball treatment of his brother last year — which the network approved, let’s not forget — is deepening by the day. I used to wonder how many of Andrew’s scandals Chris was privy to yet withheld from his colleagues and his viewers despite their obvious news value. In light of today’s news, I’ve started wondering how many of Andrew’s scandals Chris may have personally participated in but didn’t disclose.
By fall they’ll be co-hosting a podcast together, the lowest form of post-politics, post-big-media existence.
Jazz ran through the details this morning of Andrew’s latest disgrace, dispatching medical officers and cops around New York in the early days of COVID to make sure his family was tested promptly while the rest of the state struggled to cope — especially nursing homes, which weren’t allowed to test residents who were suspected of having the virus by order of the governor. “[T]his story looks very bad for Cuomo, even if there wasn’t an underlying crime committed,” Jazz noted.
But was there an underlying crime committed? NY1 reporter Zack Fink thinks so:
In light of the latest revelations about @NYGovCuomo, first reported in the @timesunion & @washingtonpost, Cuomo’s conduct of supplying scarce Covid testing for friends and family appears to be a clear violation of New York State Public Officers Law Part 74, Public Standards: pic.twitter.com/HqRmQW8dnr
— Zack Fink (@ZackFinkNews) March 25, 2021
Pretty straightforward. To wriggle free of that, Cuomo would presumably argue that he’s not an “officer” of a state agency within the meaning of the statute (although that appears to be incorrect) or that there was no “misappropriation” in this case because, as his spokesman has claimed, they were testing other people at the time too, including legislators and their families. Maybe we’re headed towards an investigation of just how “special” the special treatment for the Cuomo clan was. Not that it would make it much better to discover that all manner of lawmakers had special access to testing while New Yorkers had to do without, but it would weaken the nepotism angle.
Still, Cuomo hasn’t had much patience for state officers extending privileges to family members in the past, as another New York reporter recalled:
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) March 25, 2021
The state assembly committee that’s pursuing impeachment announced today that they’ll be looking at this as another possible ground for removing Cuomo:
“Matters that have come up will certainly receive some attention,” said Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine. “But the investigation cannot be distracted from its major challenge and won’t be.”
The committee has hired an investigative law firm to examine sexual harassment claims against Cuomo by former staffers, whether Cuomo withheld total death counts of nursing home residents from COVID-19, and a lawsuit that claimed the administration forced builders of the Mario Cuomo Bridge to make changes that would jeopardize safety.
“The investigation focuses on the three major areas we have been assigned to investigate,” Lavine told Newsday. “To be sure, there will be some measure of consideration for everything else that must necessarily be investigated.”
Before I saw Fink’s tweet, I thought there was no way the assembly would impeach him for prioritizing his family for testing if their investigations into his nursing-home cover-up and alleged sexual harassment of employees petered out. Most people would say the testing scandal is a lesser offense than those other two, I think, and so politically it might seem “petty” to try to oust him for it after finding him innocent of wrongdoing on the graver accusations. But it may be that the nepotism with testing ends up being the assembly’s strongest case that Cuomo actually broke the law with his misdeeds. They might not be able to prove criminal behavior in his lechery or in his team’s “creative bookkeeping” on COVID deaths in nursing homes, but if they’ve got him on dispensing special treatment to family members in violation of a statute, then sure. What’s the case for not punishing him for his lawbreaking?
As for Chris, this was posted on Tuesday night:
Reminder from us at CPT that @ChrisCuomo is off this week with his family.
He'll be back Monday 9p, ET, on @CNN.
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) March 23, 2021
It could just be a happy coincidence that he’s off this week as an Andrew scandal in which he’s personally involved breaks big. But reporters routinely contact the subjects of a story for comment in advance of publication. It’s possible that Chris got wind that the scoop about his special priority in testing was in the works last week, either through Andrew’s office or because he was contacted about it by the Albany Times Union, and hurriedly decided to take a break from TV until the storm passed. Will he be back on the air as scheduled on Monday? Stay tuned.