State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie approved an impeachment inquiry of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 12. The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove, will conduct the investigation.
As the claims of sexual harassment against Cuomo have grown more numerous, there have been call for his resignation by lawmakers from both political parties, but the governor has said he would not step down.
The office of state Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating the allegations against Cuomo.
The impeachment inquiry in the Legislature could take a good deal of time. “The committee is in the process of retaining an independent counsel,” Lavine explained. “Insofar as how long this could last, these things tend to take on a life of their own.”
The Judiciary Committee will make a recommendation on whether Cuomo should be impeached to the Assembly. If the committee’s decision is to go forward with impeachment, the Assembly will vote on it. It the majority votes to impeach, a trial in the Senate will follow.
So far, the process is similar to former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, but here’s where it differs. After the House of Representatives impeached Trump, he remained in office during his trial in the Senate. If the State Assembly votes to impeach Cuomo, he will have to step down, and Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul will serve as acting governor until the trial is completed.
Hochul, 62, of Buffalo, is an attorney who was briefly a member of Congress when, in 2011, she won a special election for a House seat. But she lost her re-election bid in 2012. Cuomo chose her to be his running mate in 2014. If he were to resign or to be found guilty and impeached, Hochul would be the first woman to serve as governor of New York.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, of Glen Cove, who ran for governor in 2006 against Eliot Spitzer and lost by a wide margin, said he had not thought about running for governor. Suozzi has said repeatedly that he does not want to weigh in on Cuomo’s situation until after James’s investigation is complete.
“I’m very happy in Congress,” Suozzi said. “. . . During the virus, [my wife,] Helene, and I were talking about how any time I’ve planned ahead, it didn’t turn out good. “When I ran in 2006, it didn’t turn out too well for me or for my competitor, as it turned out. I don’t plan. I will continue to do my job the best I can.”