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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s impeachment investigation was suspended by legislators after the embattled Democrat announced his resignation.
Carl Heastie, the speaker of the New York State Assembly, announced the development on Friday and indicated that the inquiry will be halted on Aug. 25, the day Cuomo is set to be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. Heastie explained that the governor’s resignation served to invalidate the question of whether he “should remain in office,” one of the purposes of the investigation.
The speaker also indicated that Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine, with the assistance of attorneys, came to believe that the legislative body does not have the authority to “impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office” after a review of the Empire State’s Constitution.
“Let me be clear — the committee’s work over the last several months, although not complete, did uncover credible evidence in relation to the allegations that have been made in reference to the governor,” Heastie said in a statement. “Underscoring the depth of this investigation, this evidence concerned not only sexual harassment and misconduct but also the misuse of state resources in relation to the publication of the governor’s memoir as well as improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The impeachment investigation into Cuomo began in March after sexual harassment allegations against the governor came to light. Heastie said last week that the inquiry was nearly completed when Attorney General Letitia James released an explosive report claiming Cuomo engaged in sexual misconduct with 11 women and fostered a culture of intimidation to silence victims who sought to come forward.
On Tuesday, Cuomo, who continues to maintain his innocence against the report and allegations, resigned. His resignation leaves a two-week window before he exits the role completely.
Despite his departure, some officials in the state still wanted to see him impeached.
“It’s about accountability,” Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, a Manhattan Democrat, told the New York Times on Thursday. “It’s really important that we don’t allow him to continue his abuse elsewhere. We have to make sure that he can’t hold office again.”
Assemblyman Keith Brown, a Suffolk County Republican, held similar expectations.
“There are some serious allegations that have been lodged, and there’s been an ongoing investigation that has cost taxpayers a substantial amount of money,” he said. “We believe that New Yorkers have a right to know what the outcome of that investigation is in terms of the facts of what happened.”
When James released her findings, she opted not to pursue criminal charges against Cuomo, though she left the option open for local prosecutors and law enforcement. Since her landmark announcement, multiple district attorneys, including those in Albany and Westchester counties, have begun investigations of a criminal nature into Cuomo’s conduct.
Brittany Commisso, an accuser who claimed the embattled Democrat groped her breast in the executive mansion, filed a criminal complaint of her own in Albany.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple indicated earlier in the week that Cuomo’s resignation does not change the status of that investigation.
“It was never about his office, although I appreciate him putting the people of New York first and stepping aside,” he said Tuesday.