NEW YORK (WKBW) — Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl Heastie announced Friday the assembly will suspend its impeachment investigation following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's resignation effective August 25.
Heastie said the decision was made after consulting with Chair Charles Lavine and majority colleagues.
According to Heastie, the decision was made for two reasons. First, the purpose of the investigation was to determine whether the governor should remain in office and his resignation answers that directive. Second, Heastie said Chair Lavine advised that it is the belief that the constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office.
Let me be clear - the committee’s work over the last several months, although not complete, did uncover credible evidence in relation to allegations that have been made in reference to the governor. 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.
This evidence - we believe - could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.
Heastie said he has asked Chair Lavine to turn over all the evidence the committee has gathered to relevant investigatory authorities.
As I have said, this has been a tragic chapter in our state’s history. The people of this great state expect and deserve a government they can count on to always have their best interests in mind. Our government should always operate in a transparent, safe and honest manner. These principles have and always will be the Assembly Majority’s commitment to all New Yorkers.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Western New York native, is now set to take over as governor of New York. Hochul will be the first female governor in the history of New York State.
"The promise I make to New Yorkers, right here and right now, I will fight like hell for you every single day, like I've always done and always will," Hochul said Wednesday.
Several elected leaders have responded to Heastie's announcement. You can find their statements below.
Senator Sean Ryan
While I understand the legal argument about the inability to impeach a Governor who has resigned, I do hope that the Assembly, at the very least, releases to the public all the evidence uncovered during their impeachment inquiry. They paid an outside firm, just like the Attorney General did, to conduct an investigation and prepare a report. I think the taxpayers deserve to see what the Assembly has found.
Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt
The decision from Assembly Democrats to suspend the impeachment investigation reeks of a shady deal to protect Andrew Cuomo.
At any point in the last six months, Democrats could have impeached our now disgraced Governor - but that would’ve required courage. Instead, they stalled and bought Andrew Cuomo all the time in the world, while they wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on their sham investigation.
Resignation is not accountability. The Democrats not only failed in their constitutional responsibilities - they failed the Governor’s countless victims in nursing homes, brave women who came forward to tell their stories, and those who believe in honest and transparent government.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay
The decision to drop the impeachment investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a massive disservice to the goals of transparency and accountability.
Moving forward with the impeachment would have brought a necessary conclusion to an important endeavor and ensured Andrew Cuomo would never be permitted to hold statewide office. Instead, mountains of evidence and months of work will now be hidden from the public by this disappointing, tone-deaf decision.
The Legislature had a chance to deliver accountability and justice to the victims of Andrew Cuomo’s failed administration. Today’s announcement is a slap in the face to the people this body was elected to represent.
Assemblymember Steve Hawley
Impartial justice is a founding principle of our constitutional republic, and nobody should be above the law. Our public officials should be held to the highest standards possible, and by ending this impeachment investigation the speaker has denied justice to the people of this state and allowed potentially illegal acts to be swept under the rug.
Assemblymember Monica Wallace
I strongly disagree with the decision to suspend the impeachment investigation. We have been involved in this investigation for several months. It has been a thorough investigation where dozens of witnesses have been interviewed and thousands of pages of information have been turned over. We have an obligation to the public and to the witnesses who came forward to finish our work and to disclose our findings.
That said, I do support the decision to turn over the evidence we have gathered thus far to the Attorney General and other investigatory authorities. As noted, our work is incomplete, but credible evidence concerning some of the allegations has been found and deserves further investigation by those who have authority to pursue remedies beyond removal from office.
Assemblymember Mike Norris
I am outraged by the Speaker’s decision to shut down the impeachment investigation of the Governor. And the public should also be outraged! The public deserves accountability and transparency and has a right to know the facts uncovered during the Judiciary Committee’s investigation. I call upon the Committee to continue its work and release its findings to the public.
Assemblymember Karen McMahon
“The Assembly Judiciary Committee was charged with conducting an investigation and rendering a determination whether Governor Cuomo was fit to remain in office. Based on the Constitution and case law of New York, it has been determined that the Judiciary Committee lacks the authority to continue the impeachment proceedings in light of the Governor's imminent resignation. The committee’s investigation yielded important information regarding the Governor’s alleged sexual harassment, use of state resources in writing his memoir, and manipulation of nursing home data. That material will now be turned over to the enforcement agencies that are continuing to investigate the Governor’s conduct. In addition to sharing this information with other investigating authorities, it is my hope that the Judiciary Committee will share our findings with the public and issue our own report.”