DoJ's probe into Cuomo is done, but NY AG isn't

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

There’s no federal investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, Attorney General Tish James isn’t quite done, yet.

James could release details of her investigation into whether Cuomo sexually harassed nine women before the end of the summer, something the governor’s office seems to believe is becoming more political by the day. Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi told The New York Times last week, “the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general’s review.”

A rather curious statement since Cuomo asked James to look into the allegations while promising cooperation from all New York State employees. (One would guess this includes the governor.) There’s also no evidence of any leaks despite Azzopardi’s protestations on Twitter and in the press, including calling a union president an extortionist who supports James in the governor’s mansion. Cuomo critics like James, but it seems more along the lines of enjoying thorn-like poking in Cuomo’s side versus lobbying for her to challenge him in 2022.

What’s interesting is Republicans are the ones saying James has a better shot at Democrats staying in the governor’s mansion.

“If Andrew Cuomo is on the ballot, a Republican wins,” GOP New York City Councilman Joe Borelli said to Yahoo News. “A guy with the behavior of ‘Wedding Crashers’ without the looks and charms of Vince Vaughn isn’t going to win in the suburbs anymore. [James] has the only viable path in a Dem primary. Cuomo is about as popular as a pop-up ad on a porn site, but you can’t beat someone with no one.”

Republican Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh told WRGB Cuomo is a weaker candidate because a recent poll had Cuomo losing to a Republican. The same poll put James in front of a potential GOP nominee if she was on the ballot instead of the incumbent.

Per chance Cuomo and his allies hope to buoy support before the report comes out because they’re worried he’ll be painted in an extremely poor light. It’s a tactic used by multiple politicians, including former President Donald Trump, to belittle and cast doubt on unflattering news. What better way to bring in more donations or fervent support than calling things a “witch hunt” when things appear bleak.

Not everyone believes James’ report signals doom on Cuomo’s political future. State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie cast doubt on whether the governor could be impeached for sexual harassment because he wanted the Judiciary Committee to review it as part of its own probe into Cuomo. That comment caused one of the attorneys representing a Cuomo accuser to suggest Heastie betrayed his duties by showing loyalty to the governor instead of the rule of law.

The amusing parts? James’ reputation had been one of a Cuomo loyalist, instead of someone seeking higher office. A source told Yahoo News back in March that the pair had a good working relationship but James would buck things when it was the right thing to do. Perhaps she’s seeing how the political winds are moving and believes she’s the better candidate.

Except no one knows if James will run for governor. The rumors are all coming from Cuomo’s camp, not anyone connected with the AG. Meaning Cuomo’s worried. It’s possible the DoJ’s decision to pass on investigating the nursing home deaths won’t matter. Still seems odd since one would think avoidable elderly deaths matter more than in the grand scheme of things than sexual harassment. This isn’t taking away from the sex misconduct allegations against Cuomo but just pointing out the strangeness of what gets the public up in arms.

And I thought Texas politics was a bloodsport.