ALBANY, N.Y. — After a weekend of intense criticism, the New York state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is planning to release a report detailing its soon-to-be-abandoned impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, announced Monday that lawmakers will “continue to review evidence and issue a final report” after choosing to shelve the probe in the wake of Cuomo’s resignation amid sexual harassment allegations.
Heastie said Friday that lawmakers had uncovered “credible evidence” of misdeeds but decided not to pursue impeachment with the governor already on his way out and slated to be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Lawmakers were examining not only the sexual harassment claims, but were also probing the administration’s counting of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, Cuomo’s $5 million pandemic book deal and other allegations.
The decision to forgo impeachment drew the ire of several women who accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior as well as dozens of lawmakers, including those serving on the Judiciary Committee, who want to see the evidence collected during the five-month inquiry.
Over the weekend, Charlotte Bennett, a former Cuomo aide who claims the disgraced governor repeatedly asked her inappropriate and sexual questions, slammed Heastie for taking the “coward’s way out” by ending the Assembly probe.
The 25-year-old said Heastie was failing to hold Cuomo accountable despite state Attorney General Letitia James’ office finding that the governor harassed Bennett and multiple other young women.
“We took enormous risk of speaking out about the abuse and harassment we experienced, and the AG’s independent investigation that followed corroborated our allegations and determined that the governor broke state and federal law,” Bennett said. “Still, the speaker can’t muster enough courage to do his job.”
Lindsey Boylan, another former aide and the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo of misconduct, called the Assembly leadership’s decision to call off its separate investigation “an unjust cop out.”
Some members of the Judiciary Committee told the New York Daily News they were blindsided when Heastie and Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Nassau Democrat and the committee chairman, announced their decision to let Cuomo off the hook.
All six Republicans and nine out of 15 Democrats on the committee said the Assembly should at least release a public report on the findings of the impeachment investigation, according to The Associated Press.
Heastie said the release of the report will be done in a way as to not interfere with ongoing investigations into Cuomo being conducted by federal, state and local prosecutors.
“In doing so, the committee will take all appropriate steps to ensure that this effort does not interfere with various ongoing investigations by the United States Attorney concerning nursing home data; the attorney general concerning the governor’s memoir; and local law enforcement authorities in five jurisdictions — Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau and Oswego — regarding possible criminal incidents of sexual misconduct,” he said.
Story by Denis Slattery, New York Daily News