On Tuesday, the results of a nearly five month independent investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James was released. It found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women, violating state and federal laws.
For some residents the decision was a relief. Lauren Giacalone and Savannah Smith, who live in East Meadow, said the governor’s behavior is reprehensible.
“I think if you’re going to be in a position of power it’s important to know your actions have consequences,” Giacalone said. “Being professionally superior doesn’t give you the right to sexually harass and assault [women] without repercussions.”
Smith said that she believes that Cuomo has gotten away with sexually harassing women for too long. “He is the biggest hypocrite when it comes to him being accused,” she said. ‘Sexual assault allegations, if seen to be true, should have their consequences and he should then as a result resign.”
A call for the governor’s resignation quickly followed the AG’s announcement by nearly every New York state elected leader and even governor’s from surrounding states. A few hours after the findings were released, President Joe Biden joined in, saying Cuomo should resign.
New York State Assemblyman John Mikulin is asking that the governor step down too. “Governor Cuomo should immediately resign,” said the Republican from Bethpage. “I join my colleagues in the minority in calling for a special session to impeach the governor and hope the majority joins our call. The attorney general’s report confirmed that he is unable to lead the State of New York.”
United States senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were also quick to comment. “Today's report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so,” Schumer and Gillibrand said. “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor's office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign."
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie approved an impeachment inquiry into Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 12. The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove, has been conducting the investigation. A source said it should be completed by the end of August.
"We are reviewing the Attorney General's extensive report documenting sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Cuomo,” Lavine said in a statement on Tuesday. “The report is being studied by the members of the Judiciary Committee and every member of the Assembly. We are engaged in an intensive analysis of the report and its exhibits with our Assembly counsels and with our independent counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell."
The Assembly will consider the results of the AG’s investigation, as Montesano said, but it is the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation that carries more weight. An impeachment decision by the committee will lead to an Assembly vote. And if the majority votes to impeach Cuomo, he will have to step down and New York’s Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Hochul, will serve as acting governor. A trial in the Senate will follow.
Cuomo would have to be acquitted by the Court of Impeachment in the Senate to be reinstated as governor. If he is impeached in the Senate, the verdict could preclude him from ever running for office again.
“It’s embarrassing [Cuomo] tried so hard to deny it,” Lauren Giacalone said. “I hope his being caught brings the victims some peace.”
“The findings are extraordinarily disturbing,” Lavine said. “The details provided by the victims are repugnant. This is a difficult day for the People of the State of New York.”
Mallory Wilson contributed to this story.