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Hochul takes no position on impeachment proceedings

The Assembly Judiciary Committee.
New York NOW
The Assembly Judiciary Committee.

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they wanted to see impeachment proceedings continue in the Assembly, despite his decision to leave office.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will replace Cuomo, said during her first public
appearance since the governor’s resignation that she wouldn’t influence
the Assembly’s decision.

“I’ve been in this business long enough to know that it’s not in the purview of the New York State governor to dictate to the New York State Assembly, or to the Judiciary Committee on what actions they should take with respect to anything, particularly impeachment,” Hochul said.

While both Democrats and Republicans have expressed a desire to proceed, there are unanswered questions about whether or not a governor can be impeached after leaving office.

Assemblymember Mary Beth Walsh, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee from Saratoga County, said that continuing with the scheduled hearings, and eventually drafting articles of impeachment, is about more than just sexual harassment.

“I think when you’re talking about the nursing home deaths, when you’re talking about a possible misappropriation of state resources with the book deal, and with possible preferential testing, or preferential vaccines given to the inner circle, that’s all important,” Walsh said. "And I think that goes to that abuse of power, and that abuse of office, and I would like to continue.”

The appetite for impeachment appeared to increase after the release of a 168-page report by New York Attorney General Letitia James last week found multiple allegations of sexual harassment made against Cuomo to be credible.

But some Democrats said they wouldn’t take a position on whether impeachment proceedings should continue or not. Among them is Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, a Democrat from Binghamton.

“I’m going to leave that to the Judiciary Committee to decide,” Lupardo said Tuesday.

The ranking Republican on the Assembly Judiciary Committee, Michael Montesano, also said this week thathe’d like the proceedings to continue.

Despite not openly supporting the continuation of impeachment proceedings, Hochul did distance herself from the administration, and said that none of the people implicated in the attorney general’s report will remain in her administration.

“Oh, there’ll be turnover,” Hochul said. “I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close, physically or otherwise … At the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.”

The Assembly judiciary committee is planning to meet again on Monday, Aug. 16, which will be the first meeting since the governor announced his resignation, and the second since the attorney general released her report.