NEW YORK — The New York Assembly’s impeachment investigation into Governor Andrew Cuomo is “nearing completion,” and the body will soon consider “potential articles of impeachment” against him, said the chairman of the committee overseeing the inquiry in a statement Thursday.
Charles Lavine, who leads the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, said lawyers conducting the inquiry have directed Cuomo and his legal team to submit any evidence in the governor’s defense by Aug. 13. The lawyers had previously issued a subpoena for relevant documents.
The move was the latest and most vivid indication yet that the Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, was moving quickly to impeach Cuomo, a third-term Democrat.
In March, the Assembly began a broad impeachment inquiry, which had started slowly, in part because it was examining several scandals involving Cuomo, including his handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
But after a report from the New York attorney general’s office this week concluded that Cuomo had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, the Assembly’s leaders signaled that they intended to expedite their inquiry and move on to an impeachment vote.
Lawmakers in the Assembly could impeach Cuomo with a simple majority vote. A trial would then be held in the state Senate, where Democrats are also in the majority. If convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office and potentially barred permanently from seeking statewide political office. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would replace him as governor.
Assembly Democrats held an emergency video meeting Tuesday, hours after the report was released, and many of the 50 to 60 lawmakers who spoke favored drafting articles of impeachment based solely on the findings of the attorney general’s report.
They called for the Assembly to move quickly — within a week to 10 days — to impeach the governor, according to notes taken at the meeting. Members repeatedly expressed concern that if they gave Cuomo more time, he would find a way to survive the scandal.
“This is enough for an expeditious, if not immediate, impeachment,” said Charles Barron, an assemblyman from Brooklyn.
“We need to do immediate impeachment because anything short of that, and we are going to look like we are buying time for the governor,” Barron added.
Robert Carroll, another member from Brooklyn, called for an impeachment vote within a week.
Carroll also argued that there was no need for the Judiciary Committee to continue investigating the sexual harassment charges because of the report from the attorney general’s office. The lawmakers’ comments were verified by several of the meeting’s participants.
Lavine and the Assembly’s speaker, Carl Heastie, repeatedly pushed back against calls for speed, arguing that the Assembly needed to be able to present evidence and a thorough case at any impeachment trial.
“The governor, at a trial, is not just going to sit there and say, ‘Yeah, everything that they say is fine,’ ” Heastie said. “He’s going to try to refute every single one of those things.”
Constraining the investigation with a deadline, Heastie continued, could interfere with the thoroughness of an impeachment case.
He also noted that past presidential impeachment investigations had taken time, pointing specifically to the months that passed between Robert Mueller’s investigation of former president Donald Trump and the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach him.
“Impeachment is more than an indictment,” Heastie said. “It is an actual trial that has to be conducted with the governor being a defendant, and he’s not going to go without kicking and screaming, so you have to be prepared for that.”
But the argument did not convince Heastie’s caucus. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said the report exceeded “what I even thought was the worst-case scenario” before calling for the impeachment to move expeditiously.
“A couple of weeks, OK,” Paulin said. “A month, not OK.”
In a statement after the meeting, Heastie said members would “move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”
The impeachment investigation initially had four main focal points: the sexual harassment allegations; Cuomo’s handling of data about nursing home deaths; whether he used state resources to write his memoir about the pandemic; and whether his administration covered up potential structural problems on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
But one assemblyman on the committee said Wednesday that the investigation had “been redirecting” away from the bridge allegations to other areas, which several others close to the investigation confirmed.
Lavine’s statement did not provide a likely end date for the impeachment investigation. A person familiar with the process said earlier this week that it could take a month to complete the inquiry and draw up the articles of impeachment.
The committee is next scheduled to meet Monday morning in Albany.
Cuomo, who has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, has for months refused to heed calls for his resignation. In the wake of the attorney general’s report, his support has dropped among the public, and he has seen defections from some of his most loyal backers.