Lawmakers in the New York Assembly said an impeachment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) would no longer be necessary after announcing his resignation, said Speaker Carl Heastie on Friday, Aug. 13.
After a decade-long grip on power in New York, Cuomo announced his resignation this Tuesday following a state attorney general’s report alleging he sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Cuomo denied the accusations, attributing parts of his behavior to his Italian-American roots.
Heastie said the impeachment was no longer important since its goal was to evaluate whether Governor Cuomo should remain in office, according to Reuters.
He added that a legal counsel had also advised the lawmakers that the state’s constitution does not permit the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office.
Cuomo’s avoidance of impeachment and removal means he can run for office again in the future, including in a gubernatorial election.
But Heastie said if Cuomo did not resign, an impeachment would be imminent due to the evidence the committee collected throughout the past months, CNBC reported.
Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct had drawn investigations from local law enforcement agencies in five jurisdictions, including Manhattan, Albany, Westchester, Nassau, and Oswego.
Lindsey Boylan, one of the 11 individuals and the first person to expose Cuomo’s problems, was not happy with the Assembly’s decision.
“The Assembly’s decision to call off its impeachment investigation is an unjust cop-out,” Boylan wrote in a Tweet. “The public deserves to know the extent of the Governor’s misdeeds and possible crimes. His victims deserve justice and to know he will not be able to harm others.”
Some legislators opposed, claiming that Cuomo could and should be impeached even after leaving office, per Reuters. Assemblyman Ron Kim (D), who has been a vocal opponent of Cuomo, said he would release a legal brief explaining why impeachment is legal.
Aside from sexual misconduct, the impeachment investigation was also looking into Cuomo’s handling of nursing home deaths data and his potential exploitation of the state resources by writing a published memoir.
If the Assembly impeaches him, Cuomo will have to stand trial in the Democrats-filled state senate. If convicted, he would be blocked from holding a public post in New York again.
Meanwhile, Cuomo disagreed that he was stepping down because of the sexual allegations on Tuesday.
“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let the government get back to the government,” Cuomo said as reported by CNBC. “And therefore that is what I’ll do because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you.”
Following Cuomo’s withdrawal, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will take his place and become the state’s first female governor. She revealed her intention to run for a full term in 2022 on Thursday.