Assembly GOP introduces resolution calling for Cuomo's impeachment

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ALBANY — The state Assembly’s Republican conference is introducing a resolution to begin the process of impeaching Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a three-term Democrat.

The move, which has no chance of being approved given the solid Democratic majorities in both houses of the New York Legislature, is a sign that Cuomo’s critics continue to feel emboldened as the governor remains embroiled in controversy over his decisions about the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes.

“The Cuomo Administration’s nursing home cover-up is one of the most alarming scandals we’ve seen in state government,” Minority Leader Will Barclay said in a statement. “Intentionally withholding critical information from the public, underreporting fatality numbers by 50 percent and the recent revelation they hid the truth to avoid a federal Department of Justice investigation are among the factors that raise the serious possibility of criminality. It is incumbent upon the Legislature to undertake a comprehensive, bipartisan review of the Cuomo Administration’s policies, decisions and actions on this matter and render a decision on what steps must be taken to hold the governor accountable.”

One of the most ironclad rules of Albany is that the Assembly does not pass measures of significance sponsored by the minority party. It has been many years since a Republican has been the sponsor of a new law that does anything more than rename a few blocks of a state road in their district after a veteran. Even if the idea of impeachment gains ground, it’s all but guaranteed that Democrats will be responsible for deciding how that will proceed.

A handful of longtime Cuomo critics in the Democratic Party have said that impeachment might eventually be on the table, but the party’s leadership has not yet seriously entertained the possibility.

“It’s hypocritical,” said State Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs. “Here you have a reporting inaccuracy — which no matter how you look at it, is not criminal — and the Republicans are choosing to politicize the governor’s handling of the pandemic and an extraordinarily difficult crisis while they were silent while a Republican president was fomenting insurrection in the nation’s Capitol. They were silent on impeachment then, but for a reporting inaccuracy, they’re running around with their hair on fire. It defies credulity.”

The Republican proposal would create a “Temporary Joint Legislative Committee on Impeachment and Investigation of the State’s Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes.”

That committee would consist of two appointees from each of the Legislature’s four conferences. It would have subpoena power and, within two months, would report on “any unlawful activities or willful and corrupt misconduct” that it uncovers.

Impeachments in Albany require a majority vote of the Assembly, where Democrats have 107 members and Republicans have 43. An impeached governor would then be tried by a body composed of the state Senate (which has 43 Democrats and 20 Republicans), and the seven judges of the Court of Appeals (all of whom have been appointed by Cuomo). A two-thirds vote would be needed to convict.

No governor has been impeached since William Sulzer, a Democrat, in 1913. Sulzer committed some misdeeds before he took office, such as the purchase of stocks with his campaign funds, but was brought down largely because he committed the most grievous misdeed of all — daring to stand up to Tammany Hall and its boss, Charles F. Murphy. Sulzer ran for governor in 1912 with Tammany’s support.

Republicans pointed to the heavily politicized removal of Sulzer as an example of an impeachment done right, saying it "checked executive abuse and power."

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