Perhaps the momentum in Albany really has shifted. Up until now, the New York state assembly had more or less insisted on conducting a holistic impeachment process, moving forward on all scandal fronts simultaneously. That allowed the Democrat-controlled chamber to take as much time as it wanted, providing a ready excuse for any lack of action.
Five months and one Attorney General report later, there’s a sudden sense of urgency in Albany now:
The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is officially warning Gov. Andrew Cuomo that its impeachment investigation into the governor has almost concluded and is giving him until next Friday to produce any final evidence that he might like to share.
“We write to inform you that the Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client,” the committee’s attorneys wrote to Cuomo’s counsel. “Accordingly, we invite you to provide any additional evidence or written submissions that you would like the Committee to consider before its work concludes. To the extent that you wish to share any such materials with the Committee, please do so by no later than 5:00 pm on August 13, 2021.”
Tick tock, tick tock. Democrats in and outside of New York have been calling for Cuomo to resign after the devastating investigative report into sexual harassment and arguably sexual assault, but some of those in the state legislature were a little more coy about Plan B if Cuomo refused. This escalates matters on both sides of the equation.
The New York Times senses a sea change as well:
The move was the latest and most vivid indication yet that the Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, was moving quickly to impeach Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat.
The Assembly began a broad impeachment inquiry into the governor in March, which had started slowly, in part because it was examining several scandals involving Mr. Cuomo, including his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, that could lead to the governor’s impeachment.
But after a report from the New York State attorney general’s office this week concluded that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, the Assembly’s leaders signaled that they intended to expedite their inquiry and move on to an impeachment vote.
That’s not to say that their probe will end on the 13th or even shortly thereafter, the NYT reports. However …
Mr. Lavine’s statement did not provide a likely end date for the impeachment investigation, and several members of his committee have said that they will take as long as needed in order to assemble the strongest possible case for impeachment in preparation for a trial. A person familiar with the process said earlier this week that it could take a month to complete the inquiry and draw up the articles of impeachment.
That may be what the committee intends. Issuing this deadline escalates matters for both Cuomo and the committee, however. They’ve already taken nearly five months on their own to probe this and other scandals, and now James has done much of their work for them on the sexual-harassment allegations. Once the deadline arrives, regardless of how or whether Cuomo responds, the committee will come under tremendous pressure to take some sort of action well before a month has passed.
That’s how the media’s already reporting it in New York, in fact. The NBC affiliate there headlines this video report with “Cuomo Impeachment Looming, Assembly Gives 1 Week Deadline for Evidence”:
After making this maneuver, the committee has limited its options. To delay an impeachment would be to continue an allegedly hostile workplace in the governor’s office. To delay a dismissal on the basis of evidence of innocence would be unjust to someone falsely accused. New York’s assembly wasted months on their stall tactics, and now they either have to fish or cut bait.