Governor Andrew Cuomo holds press briefing and makes announcement to combat COVID-19 Delta variant at 633 3rd Avenue in New York on August 2, 2021. (Photo by Lev Radin/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
Gov. Cuomo faces mounting pressure from Democrats to resign
03:06 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A wide-ranging New York state impeachment investigation into various allegations of misconduct against embattled Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is close to concluding, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In a letter sent Thursday, lawyers working for the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee’s impeachment probe informed Cuomo’s attorneys that the “Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client.”

The committee’s attorneys also invited Cuomo to submit additional evidence or written submissions to the committee by no later than August 13.

The news that the impeachment inquiry is close to wrapping follows the release of a damaging report Tuesday from the New York state attorney general’s office that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former state employees, and created a “hostile work environment for women.” The report also found Gov. Cuomo, who signed legislation that mandated sexual harassment training in New York State, didn’t recall taking the training himself except in 2019, and a certificate showing he completed that training was signed by a colleague.

An attorney for Cuomo, Rita Glavin, said Thursday that the AG’s investigators acted as “prosecutor, judge and jury” and that the governor will cooperate with the Assembly’s investigation.

Glavin said Cuomo “appreciates the opportunity to provide a submission to them” and accused the report of omitting “documents, emails, and testimony that contradict its narrative.”

Cuomo has denied the allegations made in the state attorney general report and has remained defiant against the mounting pressure to resign from high-profile Democrats including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Since March, the Judiciary Committee has been looking into Cuomo in four areas: the sexual harassment allegations, deaths in nursing homes from Covid-19, usurping state resources for personal gain, and allegations of a cover up over damaged bridge bolts on the Mario Cuomo Bridge, named after the former New York governor who is Andrew Cuomo’s father.

The committee attorneys will review any further materials Cuomo decides to submit, and then the Judiciary committee would meet and consider which articles of impeachment to formally recommend to the full Assembly, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Steck, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN’s Polo Sandoval Thursday.

“Assuming that the committee’s investigation is very similar to the findings of the attorney general, it would be hard to imagine that sexual harassment would not be a basis for impeaching this governor,” he said.

Steck added that the committee may be looking at additional impeachment charges.

“I’m hoping and believing that we’ll have this wrapped up from the Judiciary committee’s point of view in early September,” he said.

The committee is actively considering evidence and how it might apply to articles of impeachment, but will likely not formally present them to the Assembly until after that August 13 deadline depending on the governor’s response, according to a source familiar with the impeachment investigation.

Reacting to the attorney general’s report Tuesday, New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement that Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.”

He added that the Assembly would “move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”

New York’s state legislature is not currently in session, but lawmakers can call a special session at any time should they proceed with filing articles of impeachment and impeachment proceedings.

The Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the ongoing impeachment investigation.

A majority of New York state assembly members – 80 Democrats and Republicans – told CNN they would vote “yes” to impeach, if articles of impeachment are introduced. If the Assembly votes to impeach, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would become governor, stripping Cuomo of his decision-making abilities while he undergoes trial in the New York state Senate.

Fallout from the report could also extend beyond any action state lawmakers take, with at least six district attorneys offices in New York having requested additional investigative materials from the state’s attorney general’s office to determine whether Cuomo’s actions amounted to potential crimes.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office in Suffolk County confirmed to CNN that it had requested additional information from the report, while Joseph Spino, a spokesperson for the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, said its office had also asked for more materials from the report.

Sexual harassment training

During his years as governor, Cuomo, a three-term Democrat, has repeatedly spoken out against sexual harassment and misconduct.

In 2019, Cuomo signed into law what his office called “the nation’s most comprehensive sexual harassment package,” which required employers to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings. “There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time.

When new workplace harassment protections when into effect in October 2019, Cuomo said it was time for employers in the state to step up and make sure their employees were protected.

At a March 3 news conference, Cuomo said he had taken sexual harassment training – which is required for the state governor per a handbook for state agencies, the report said.

There was only one record of a completed training for Cuomo in 2019, the report says, but Stephanie Benton, the Director of the Governor’s Offices at the time, testified that she had signed it on his behalf. Cuomo himself testified that he didn’t remember taking sexual harassment training in any year other than 2019, according to the report.

Governor accused of retaliation

An outside attorney for Cuomo’s executive chamber said in a statement Thursday that the AG’s report alleging the governor’s office retaliated against his accuser Lindsey Boylan, a former aide, was “legally and factually wrong.” Attorneys for Cuomo sent a letter with what they called legal “analysis” to the AG’s investigators on July 18 ahead of the report’s release, according to attorney Paul Fishman’s statement.

The 13-page document sent to investigators says Cuomo’s attorneys were “surprised” at the assertion of retaliation and boils down Boylan’s allegations to political motivations linked to the timing of her run for Manhattan Borough president. The document also attempts to justify the controversial letter drafted by Cuomo’s staff to discredit Boylan, arguing that it could not be considered retaliation because it was ultimately never published.

Boylan, one of Cuomo’s first accusers, alleged that he had tried to kiss her during a meeting in his New York City office in 2018. Boylan first tweeted that Cuomo had sexually harassed her in December 2020, but did not provide additional detail. She then came forward with the details in a Medium post in February 2021.

CNN has reached out Boylan and her attorney for comment.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Mark Morales, Polo Sandoval, Paul LeBlanc, Sonia Moghe and Devan Cole contributed to this report.