Let’s do a quick overview of where Andrew Cuomo’s support stands following Tuesday’s bombshell report laying out a pattern of rampant sexual misconduct that state Attorney General Letitia James described as both “disturbing” and “in violation of both state and federal law”:
The state Assembly leader and state Senate majority leader have both said he should no longer be in office. All 27 U.S. representatives from New York have called for his resignation, as have the state’s two senators, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. So too has New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. So too has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. So too has President Biden. So too have Cuomo’s constituents, 59 percent of which say he should step down, according to a Marist poll released Tuesday night.
And yet, Cuomo is still in the governor’s mansion, and doesn’t seem to have any intention of vacating the premises voluntarily.
So … what now?
Here’s what to expect in the coming weeks:
Will Andrew Cuomo resign?
Well, it certainly doesn’t seem like it, at least for now.
Just a few hours after the attorney general released the report on Tuesday, Cuomo dropped a pre-recorded video response denying any wrongdoing. “I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said. Cuomo followed up the video with an 85-page written response rebutting the allegations, largely, and bizarrely, through a montage of images of Cuomo and other politicians hugging colleagues and constituents.
Cuomo detailed his feelings on resignation with more gusto and fewer visual aides back in March, equating the idea of stepping down to “bowing to cancel culture.”
It’s pretty clear that Cuomo does not care that every remotely prominent New York Democrat, as well as the president of the United States, has called for him to resign. He claimed back in March that he is “not part of the political club,” but the son of three-term governor whose father was the governor is a purely political creature and will barricade himself in Albany if he thinks there’s even a sliver of a chance he’ll be able to weather the storm. The problem for Cuomo now is that there may — may — not even be a sliver of a chance.
“At some point it could be like what happened with Watergate, where the Democratic leadership goes to the governor’s mansion and say, ‘Look, you know, this is happening. You don’t have a choice,'” says Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “But I think anything less than that and the governor will try to hang on. He has not indicated in any way that he’s interested in resigning or that he feels like he did anything wrong.”
Will Andrew Cuomo be impeached?
The New York State Assembly needs a majority vote to remove the governor from office, and it appears the votes are there. “It is abundantly clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement following a virtual meeting of Democrats on Tuesday afternoon.
The State Assembly launched an impeachment investigation in March following the same wave of sexual misconduct allegations that inspired the attorney general’s inquiry. Heastie said on Tuesday that the Assembly will “move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.” Assembly members have said this could take about a month, but this could change given the severity of the attorney general’s findings and the growing chorus calling for his removal.
“You would think that the attorney general’s conclusions that the governor violated state federal law would be enough,” Horner says. “Maybe there’s something else they want to add to the historical record, and certainly they don’t want to do anything that would violate the rights of the governor or screw up their actions. I’ve heard [it will take] at least 30 days, but that could change pretty quickly once people digest the report.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee, which is conducting the impeachment investigation, is scheduled to meet on Monday to determine how to proceed.
If and when the state Assembly votes to impeach Cuomo, he would be temporarily removed from office while the state Senate conducts a trial. (In the meantime, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would take the reins as acting governor.) The vast majority of state senators have already said Cuomo should resign, and it’s been widely reported that the votes are there to convict Cuomo and remove him from office permanently should the articles of impeachment make their way to the chamber. A conviction would require two-thirds of a 69-person body made up of all 63 sitting senators (minus the Senate majority leader), as well as the seven members of the New York Court of Appeals.
If the voting body convicts Cuomo, he’s out. If they don’t, he’s reinstated as governor.
Will Andrew Cuomo be criminally charged?
Staying in office through the end of his term may turn out to be the least of Cuomo’s problems.
Attorney General James said on Tuesday that she found Cuomo’s misconduct was “in violation of both federal and state law,” and prosecutors in Albany, Manhattan, and Westchester Counties have since requested evidence in service of launching their own investigations.
“We are conducting our own separate investigation,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares told NBC Nightly News on Tuesday. “It’s pretty clear we have an obligation here. Thus, we have reached out to the attorney general’s office seeking all the evidence they uncovered and relied upon to offer their report.”
When Lester Holt asked Soares whether any of Cuomo’s alleged misconduct would be considered “criminal,” Soares said that the allegations led himself and other prosecutors “to believe criminal activity had taken place.”
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) August 3, 2021
Danny Frost, a spokesman for Manhattan DA Cy Vance, announced on Wednesday that Vance’s office is also requesting evidence. “When our office learned yesterday that the @NewYorkStateAG investigation of the Governor’s conduct was complete, our office contacted the A.G.’s Office to begin requesting investigative materials in their possession pertaining to incidents that occurred in Manhattan,” he tweeted.
One of those potential incidents was the alleged harassment of Lindsey Boylan, the former Cuomo adviser whose claim that Cuomo kissed her without her consent at the governor’s Manhattan office set off the wave of allegations that led to the attorney general’s investigation.
Westchester County DA Mimi Roach announced that her office would be seeking evidence pertaining to Cuomo’s alleged misconduct toward a state trooper assigned to protect him. The report released Tuesday detailed multiple instance of inappropriate touching. “As some of the governor’s conduct described in the report occurred in Westchester County, we have formally requested investigative materials obtained by the AG’s office,” Roach said in a statement.
It’s hard to tell at this stage what could come of these investigations, but they don’t bode well for Cuomo’s prospects of staying in office, nor does the state Assembly’s impeachment inquiry, nor does the fact that every prominent Democrat with a connection to New York has called for Cuomo to resign. If and when he does leave office, either by choice or by force, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would replace him until next year’s election.
She’d be the first female governor in the state’s history.