What's next for Andrew Cuomo? Four potential scenarios

What's next for Andrew Cuomo? Four potential scenarios
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An investigation by New York’s attorney general into misconduct from Gov. Andrew Cuomo has thrown the Democrat's future into doubt, despite him resisting calls to step down.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday that her investigators found Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and non-consensual touching” and made “multiple offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature” to women who currently or previously worked for his state government.

The revelations raised questions about where Cuomo, once considered a presidential contender, will go next.

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY LEADER SAYS CUOMO IMPEACHMENT INVESTIGATION WILL 'MOVE EXPEDITIOUSLY'

Here are the paths Cuomo could take:

IMPEACHMENT

One scenario Cuomo could face is removal from office by New York’s Legislature.

State lawmakers began an impeachment investigation of Cuomo on March 11, shortly after New York’s attorney general began her inquiry.

The State Assembly Judiciary Committee began its investigation slowly, meeting only twice in the first two months of the process. That investigation, and the likely introduction of impeachment articles, will now hit a fast track as support for removing the governor has heated up, even among Democrats.

The Assembly’s impeachment investigation extends beyond the sexual harassment allegations facing Cuomo. Lawmakers are also reviewing claims that the governor’s office concealed damaging COVID-19 data related to nursing homes at the height of the pandemic.

Cuomo would be the first New York governor removed from that office in more than a century. The last time was in 1912, due to a scandal that involved campaign money.

If the State Assembly votes by a simple majority to remove Cuomo, the impeachment trial would move to a High Court of Impeachment. All state senators and the seven judges on the New York State Court of Appeals would serve as jurors in the impeachment trial. The majority leader of the state senate would not participate because, in the event Cuomo is removed, she would become the lieutenant governor, and Kathy Hochul, the current lieutenant governor, would take over from Cuomo.

CRIMINAL CHARGES

Cuomo could also find himself facing criminal charges for his conduct.

James said her office uncovered evidence that the governor violated both state and federal laws by harassing 11 women whose allegations were substantiated during the investigation.

District attorneys in three counties and in Manhattan have reportedly begun asking the attorney general’s office for information related to the case as they look into events that transpired in their respective jurisdictions.

Prosecutors could use the evidence James collected during her nearly five-month investigation to build a criminal case against Cuomo.

Criminal charges would significantly weaken the defense Cuomo has put up so far: arguing his words and actions have been taken out of context by some women he considered friends. Cuomo has apologized for behavior he attributed to quirks of his personality, but that justification would likely crumble in the face of legal penalties that would be much harder to spin.

RESIGNATION

Cuomo could avoid the embarrassment of a forced removal by stepping down as governor, although he has so far given no indication he plans to do so.

However, a growing chorus of Democrats has demanded Cuomo leave office, given the massive body of evidence James collected through 179 witness interviews and a review of more than 74,000 documents.

New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand both called for Cuomo to resign within hours of the announcement of James’s findings.

President Joe Biden, who withheld criticism of Cuomo during the investigation, said Tuesday he believes the governor should step down and referred to the possibility that he could be removed from office as well.

Beyond sparing Cuomo further political humiliation, resignation could potentially shield him from scrutiny of a broader scope of issues, from allegations of manipulated COVID-19 data to claims about improper use of resources during the drafting of his pandemic memoir, that the State Assembly is examining in its impeachment investigation.

STAYING IN OFFICE

Despite the near-complete erosion of his political support, Cuomo could choose to remain in office and attempt to weather the scandal.

He has so far signaled his intention to do so, appearing on camera for a video statement that featured images of him embracing various people over the years in an effort to argue the harassment allegations are simply misinterpretations of his social style.

But Cuomo’s ability to govern New York could be severely hampered by the attorney general’s conclusions.

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Already weakened by charges that he mishandled the pandemic and then tried to cover it up, Cuomo has little credibility from which to draw during a period where he will need the support of some state lawmakers to avoid impeachment.

Still, Cuomo has so far ignored calls to resign and given no indication he plans to budge from office.

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Tags: News, Andrew Cuomo, New York, Impeachment

Original Author: Sarah Westwood

Original Location: What's next for Andrew Cuomo? Four potential scenarios

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