By MARINA VILLENEUVE
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A majority of state Meeting members help starting impeachment proceedings in opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he doesn’t resign over investigative findings that he sexually harassed a minimum of 11 girls, in response to an Related Press depend Wednesday.
Not less than 82 of the physique’s 150 members have stated publicly or instructed The AP that they favored initiating the method of ousting the third-term Democratic governor if he doesn’t stop. A easy majority of Meeting members is required to authorize an impeachment trial.
Cuomo has denied that he made any inappropriate sexual advances and insisted the findings didn’t mirror the info. However whereas political strain grew, so did the potential for legal expenses in opposition to Cuomo, who basked in nationwide consideration final 12 months because the blunt-but-relatable voice of combating the coronavirus in an early U.S. hotspot, solely to see his political future imperiled a 12 months later.
District attorneys in Manhattan, suburban Westchester and Nassau counties and the state capital of Albany stated they requested for investigative supplies from the inquiry, overseen by Democratic state Legal professional Common Letitia James.
James’ investigation discovered that Cuomo had violated civil legal guidelines in opposition to sexual harassment. Making no conclusions about whether or not he must be criminally charged, investigators left the door open for native prosecutors to convey circumstances.
“We’re reviewing the deeply disturbing findings,” stated Joyce A. Smith, the performing district legal professional in Lengthy Island’s Nassau County. She pledged her workplace would “totally and expeditiously examine any potential crimes” that occurred there.
After James launched her report Tuesday, Democrats from the statehouse to the White Home known as for Cuomo to go, with President Joe Biden saying the governor ought to resign. However he confirmed no indicators of heeding them, saying that some episodes described within the report by no means occurred, others had been misconstrued or mischaracterized and the entire train was tainted.
“Politics and bias are interwoven all through each facet of this case,” he stated in a recorded video response.
Meeting Democrats, who lead the chamber, debated nearly for hours Tuesday about whether or not to question the governor now, wait to see whether or not he resigns, or give the Meeting Judiciary Committee time to wrap up its wide-ranging investigation into subjects from sexual misconduct to the Cuomo administration’s monthslong obfuscation of the whole variety of nursing residence residents who died from COVID-19.
Not less than 40 of the Meeting members who say they’re prepared to begin impeachment proceedings are Democrats.
As New York went by a harrowing coronavirus surge in spring 2020, Cuomo’s each day briefings garnered him followers across the nation and an Worldwide Emmy Award. Casting himself as a tough-minded but compassionate chief who steered the state by its largest public well being emergency in a century, the governor even wrote a guide about it.
Now, that guide itself is among the many focuses of investigations into Cuomo, with James inspecting the function a few of his aides performed in producing it.
As complaints and investigations accrued in current months, Cuomo turned an embattled however unabashed determine. He usually nonetheless touts the state’s dealing with of the pandemic regardless of now-rising an infection charges amid a nationwide surge within the extra infectious delta variant.
If the Meeting votes to question Cuomo, the state Senate might launch an impeachment trial “in weeks,” Deputy Majority Chief Mike Gianaris instructed The Related Press.
Gianaris, a Democrat, stated the chamber has been making ready for a possible impeachment trial for months.
“We’ll be able to go if and when the impeachment articles are despatched over,” he stated. “It might occur in a short time.”
The 150-member Meeting would wish 76 votes to question Cuomo and ship articles of impeachment to the Senate. The Meeting consists of 106 Democrats, 43 Republicans and one Unbiased.
Not less than two dozen Meeting Democrats known as for impeachment in public statements issued Tuesday, in response to a tally compiled by The Related Press. Some stated the Meeting ought to vote for impeachment now, whereas others stated the chamber ought to impeach Cuomo if he doesn’t resign.
Meeting Republican Chief Will Barclay urged Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, to convene an emergency particular session to vote to question Cuomo.
James’ investigation, carried out by two outdoors legal professionals, painted what she known as a “clear image” of a governor who touched or made sexually inappropriate feedback to a sequence of ladies, a lot of whom labored for him. One is a state trooper whom Cuomo efficiently sought to have assigned to his safety element.
Whereas most of the allegations in opposition to Cuomo contain verbal feedback, some girls have additionally alleged that he gave them undesirable kisses or touches. One aide stated the governor reached beneath her shirt and groped her breast on the governor’s mansion in Albany.
The governor denied Tuesday that he ever inappropriately touched anybody, stated that he by no means meant hurt and forged doubt on the political motivations of investigators, accusers and critics.
To this point, Cuomo has rebuffed calls to step down and has moved forward with plans to run for a fourth time period in 2022.
Related Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York, David Klepper in Windfall, R.I., and Mike Catalini in Trenton, N.J., contributed.