Cuomo made Tuesday the announcement that he would resign from sexual harassment claims, as it became apparent that he was likely to be impeached. Cuomo said that his resignation would take effect in 14 days and will be replaced by the Lt. Governor. Kathy Hochul.
Some legislators have asked the Assembly to continue with an impeachment proceeding. This could be to prevent Cuomo de facto holding any state office in the future, if he attempts a political comeback.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stated Friday that lawyers had advised it's judiciary panel that the state constitution does not authorize the Legislature's impeachment of an elected official who is no longer in office.
Heastie had given reporters a less definitive legal memo stating that outside counsel and Assembly lawyers had concluded that lawmakers did not have the constitutional authority to do so. However, the matter hasn’t been resolved.
"Let's be clear, the committee's work over several months, though not complete, did uncover credible proof in relation to allegations made in regard to the governor," stated Heastie, a New York City Democrat.
He stated that the evidence included evidence related to sexual harassment claims, possible misuse state resources, publication of the governor’s book about the pandemic and "improper, misleading disclosure of data from nursing homes."
Heastie stated that "this evidence -- which we believe -- could have likely resulted in articles impeachment if he hadn't resigned."
Heastie answered a question about whether legislators could still release a report containing findings to the public, as was originally planned.
He stated that "the concern is that if you're in an investigation and other law enforcement area are looking at it, I don’t know if they can, but I don’t want us to have them step on their toes whilst there are criminal investigations underway," Friday's news program, Capital Tonight.
Heastie did not explain how the release of a committee report could affect independent law enforcement investigations. He stated previously that he had asked the committee for evidence to be turned over "to the relevant investigative authorities."
Heastie denied that any agreement was made with Cuomo to allow him to resign, without being subject to an investigation or trial.
Heastie stated, "There was no agreement." "I've already said it 150 times, and I'll repeat it the 151st."
Cuomo's lawyer Rita Glavin and his office didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.
Lindsey Boylan was the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo for misconduct. She called the Assembly leadership’s decision to suspend its separate investigation "an unjust cop-out."
"The public should know the full extent of the Governor’s misdeeds, and possible crimes. She tweeted that his victims deserve justice and that he will not be harming others.
Outside lawyers have been supporting the Assembly in a broad-based investigation into whether there was grounds to impeach Cuomo since March. The announcement that the inquiry would cease came on a day the Assembly had initially set as a deadline for Cuomo's legal team to respond with any additional evidence refuting the allegations against him.
Cuomo is currently under investigation by the state attorney general for his $5 million book deal. Federal prosecutors are also looking into Cuomo's handling of data on nursing home deaths. Cuomo could also be fined by the state's ethics commissions.
Heastie also mentioned "active investigations" by the county district attorneys of Manhattan, Westchester and Nassau regarding incidents of sexual harassment by Cuomo. Many women claimed that the governor touched their breasts, and one aide said he groped them.
Many members of the committee said Heastie’s announcement caught them off guard.
Charles Lavine (Democrat, Chair Assembly Judiciary Committee) said that Heastie made the decision to suspend impeachment investigations.
The reaction of the committee members was divided with Assemblymember David Weprin (a Democrat) saying that an impeachment trial would be a "tremendous loss of government resources." Latrice, a Democrat, said Tuesday that there is more to lawmakers than focusing on Cuomo "future career options."
Others opposed the termination of the Legislature's investigation. The committee's Westchester Democrat Assemblymember Tom Abinanti called the decision "premature."
He said, "The governor hasn't even left office." "The committee should meet again and issue a report to the public on the extensive investigation the committee and its lawyers have done to date."
Will Barclay (Republican Minority Leader in Assembly) called it "a huge disservice to transparency and accountability goals."
According to Lavine, the probe by the Assembly has already cost taxpayers $1.2 million.
Six Republicans and nine of the 15 Democrats on this committee agreed that the Assembly should at the very least publish a report on the impeachment investigation.
Lavine stated that he would consult with members of the committee about whether to do so and will make a decision once Cuomo has resigned.
Lavine stated, "That's something that I'm going full consideration to." "I anticipate there will be an extensive report."
Legal experts this week said they had questions over both the legality and practicality of trying to impeach Cuomo after he'd already left office.
Ross Garber is an attorney who represented four U.S. governors in impeachment proceedings in their states. He told The Associated Press that his understanding of state law was that a person must have been in office at the time.
Richard Rifkin is an attorney who has worked for 40 years in state government, including as special counsel to the former governor and in the attorney general's bureau. Eliot Spitzer stated that the language in the state Constitution regarding impeachment was "really very vague" and that there wasn’t a precedent stating whether impeachment can continue after Cuomo leaves office.