New York Republican lawmakers have moved to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) after he steadfastly refused to resign following multiple accusations from women of sexual harassment and an explosive report that his aides worked to cover up COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
Recently, Cuomo has faced several calls for his resignation from state Democratic leaders and from the Albany Times Union, but said Sunday "there is no way I resign." Now Republicans have forced the issue in the state Assembly by introducing articles of impeachment against the governor Monday.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R) admitted that the Democratic majority will determine whether the articles of impeachment move forward, but said Monday, "We're going to keep pounding on this issue."
Nearly 30 Democratic lawmakers have called on the governor to resign his office, including Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. In a statement released Sunday, she said the growing scandals about sexual harassment, the toxic work environment surrounding the governor, and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in nursing homes have distracted from the needs of New Yorkers during the pandemic.
"We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign," Stewart-Cousins said.
Democratic state Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie (D) also issued a statement sharing the Senate majority leader's sentiment "regarding the Governor's ability to continue to lead this state."
""We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York," he said.
Cuomo on Sunday smeared calls for his resignation as anti-Democratic.
"I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn't elected by politicians," Cuomo told reporters. "I'm not gonna resign because of allegations."
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) has launched an investigation into the accusations of sexual harassment against Cuomo.
Anna Ruch, Lindsey Boylan, and Charlotte Bennett each came forward in recent weeks to accuse Cuomo of unwanted physical touching and uncomfortable or inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature. Former Cuomo aides Ana Liss and Karen Hinton on Saturday night also came forward with their own allegations of sexual harassment against the governor.
There is also a federal inquiry into the Cuomo administration's handling of data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. The New York Times reported last week that top aides to the governor rewrote a report that was prepared by the New York State Department of Health in June 2020 to omit many of the nursing home deaths recorded in New York. The report, citing unnamed officials in Cuomo's administration, alleged that the data was manipulated to protect Cuomo from political fallout related to his executive order forcing nursing homes to accept patients from hospitals that tested positive for COVID-19.
Cuomo and his aides have denied all of the allegations, both about sexual harassment and manipulating COVID-19 nursing home death data. Cuomo said last week that he often hugs and kisses people in a friendly manner, and that talks with staff about their romantic relationships was meant to be banter, not propositioning.
Since Cuomo has refused to resign, Barclay challenged state Democrats to support impeachment to put their votes where their mouths are. At least six Democratic lawmakers in New York have voiced support for impeaching Cuomo. To move forward, a majority of the New York State Assembly's 150 lawmakers will need to vote for the articles of impeachment.
""If they really believe in resignation, why not start impeachment?" Barclay told reporters in Albany.
"The real problem now is the governor has lost so much credibility and trust that we don't feel like he can go forward and govern," Barclay said.