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Former US Attorney Preet Bharara wonders if 'mischief' afoot in Andrew Cuomo waiting 14 days to resign

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A former federal prosecutor said he was surprised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces allegations of sexual harassment, intends to wait two weeks to resign and hopes there is nothing "nefarious" in the works.

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009-2017, said he sees no reason why Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul shouldn't take over almost immediately.

"I was a little taken aback that he said his resignation is effective in 14 days — and it may be overly cynical on my part — but I believe that Andrew Cuomo was a person of mischief," Bharara said during a Tuesday episode of his Cafe Insider podcast.

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"I take him at his word that he intends to resign. Fourteen days is a long time. The Lieutenant governor has been taking steps to be ready. I don't know why she couldn't take office tomorrow. And I hope there's nothing nefarious about the 14 days, but it strikes me as too long a period. You don't have to give two weeks notice to resign as governor," he added.

Preeet Bharara. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The 63-year-old governor faced accusations of sexual harassment and intimidation involving 11 women, claims that were detailed in a report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James last week. Before resigning, Cuomo was under immense pressure to step down from members of his own party, including President Joe Biden, and faced impeachment proceedings and investigations that sprung from the inquiry.

Some are speculating Cuomo may be taking a wait-and-see approach with the impeachment investigation by the state Assembly, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

"I don't know of anyone who thinks there needs to be two weeks. And that is sparking concerns from not just from some of his detractors but also candidly, from some who have been close to him over the years. They're wondering if what he is trying to do is just wait and see if the climate shifts for some reason in the other direction. Does Assembly drop this? So, I think what you are going to see is a lot of pressure on Carl Heastie, state Assembly speaker, to continue with this impeachment effort," she said during an appearance on CNN.

Cuomo could still be impeached by the state Assembly after stepping down. If convicted by the state Senate, he could be barred from running for office again, according to the Washington Post.

Already there has been some commentary about Cuomo making a political comeback. Journalist Chuck Todd predicted on MSNBC that Cuomo will run for office again sometime during his lifetime. "He wants to live to fight another day," Todd said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

In announcing his resignation on Tuesday, Cuomo continued to deny the sexual misconduct claims in the report, saying, "The most serious allegations made against me had no credible factual basis in the report." Cuomo added there is a difference between "alleged improper conduct" and "concluding sexual harassment."

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But Cuomo acknowledged the "circumstances" of his situation that would detract from major issues, including the coronavirus pandemic.

"The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing," he said. "And therefore, that's what I'll do."

He also said Hochul, who would become New York's first female governor, "is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless."

"I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers," Hochul said in a tweet. "As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor."

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Tags: News, Andrew Cuomo, Kathy Hochul, New York, Sexual Harassment

Original Author: Daniel Chaitin

Original Location: Former US Attorney Preet Bharara wonders if 'mischief' afoot in Andrew Cuomo waiting 14 days to resign

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