In a helpful recent piece for New York Public Radio (in Gothamist), Brigid Bergin notes that some legal commentators point to Section 240 of the state’s judiciary law, which controls jurisdiction for impeachment trials. That provision refers to “willful and corrupt misconduct in office” as an explanation for what constitutes an impeachable offense.
Inertia is among the most powerful forces in politics. The evidence against Cuomo is obviously mounting, but he has two things going in his favor. First, he has very capable counsel who will be able to mount strong arguments that impeachment standards in New York law are very uncertain — and after a decade in power, he has appointed many of the judges who might be called upon to rule on such claims. Second, as I related last week, Attorney General Letitia James has just appointed two well-regarded attorneys to conduct an independent investigation of the sexual-harassment allegations; and there are state and federal probes under way into Cuomo’s misrepresentations about nursing-home COVID-19 deaths.
For these reasons, it will be an easy out, particularly for Democrats who are now so courageously calling for Cuomo’s resignation (after months of lionizing him and years of averting their gaze from his notorious abusiveness), to say: Let’s wait until these investigations are concluded rather than rushing headlong into a drawn-out, uncertain impeachment process.