Have New York Democrats crossed the Rubicon on Andrew Cuomo? Ron Kim has, although the governor’s most recent target of ire hasn’t quite committed to removal. However, the Assembly Democrat argues that a mere investigative commission is no longer enough, and that they need a “public trial” instead:
Now, Kim said he will lead a push among his fellow Democratic Assembly members to pursue an impeachment trial over charges that Cuomo’s office purposefully for months held back the total number of nursing home deaths due to COVID-19.
He stopped short of saying he wants Cuomo removed from office. But he said an impeachment trial to get more facts should be contemplated, saying he continues to get calls from colleagues to pursue it.
Kim, who heads the Assembly Aging Committee, had an uncle die from COVID in a New York nursing home.
“There is a tremendous distrust in what they’ve done, and the potential coverup,” Kim said of the Cuomo administration.
“So let’s put them on a public trial and go through all the evidence one by one. That’s the only way to rebuild a proper check and balance and to rebuild the public’s trust.”
A public trial would normally be what Republicans would demand. After getting smeared by Cuomo as corrupt over the nail-salons licensing issue, Kim apparently wants to get some payback. Whether he has support from others in his caucus is another matter; Kim claims he does, but thus far his colleagues in the state legislature have been very quiet about impeachment.
Cuomo shouldn’t bet on them staying quiet, however. He’s bullied them enough over the years that Kim is far from being the only Democrat with motive to seek payback. And suddenly, the media has stopped covering up his toxicity, especially the New York Times, which delves into it even further today:
After building a reputation as a competent and compassionate leader in the midst of a pandemic, Mr. Cuomo’s standing has faltered over the last month amid revelations that his administration underreported thousands of deaths of nursing home residents. Federal prosecutors are investigating, and lawmakers have moved to strip the governor of emergency powers he has held since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
At the same time, heightened scrutiny is now being cast on a recurrent theme of his decade-long tenure: his penchant for verbal attacks and attempted intimidation. …
Indeed, in interviews with more than three dozen legislators, political consultants, former state and city officials and New York political veterans, a recurring portrait emerges of Mr. Cuomo: a talented and deft politician whose tendency toward aggression can seem out of step in an age when abusive behavior in the workplace or in professional surroundings is increasingly called out and often censured.
“His primary tool for governing is to create fear,” said Karen Hinton, a communications consultant who worked with Mr. Cuomo when he was housing secretary in the Clinton administration and has since fallen out with him. …
Others recount stories of Mr. Cuomo alternating between charm and rage — at one moment, a charismatic leader who wants to work on policy, and at another, an intimidating one who wants to vent, something one lawmaker described as an unpleasant, sometimes profane experience.
Cuomo is currently serving his third term as governor. If this is his modus operandi, then he will have alienated a lot of people over that period of time. That’s only sustainable when they don’t combine up to oppose it. If enough of them do, then the bullying loses all effectiveness — and victims of it will smell blood in the water and move in for the kill.
Kim senses that this might be the moment. Calling for an impeachment of a governor of your own party is a significant escalation politically, but also psychologically. It is a reclamation of legislative power against the executive, and a very public call for people to stop letting themselves be bullied by Cuomo. Don’t be surprised if this creates its own momentum — and if it does, Cuomo’s character will almost certainly exacerbate it as he attempts to intimidate people into backing off.