Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation announcement rocked the New York State Capitol Tuesday.
Lawmakers were taken aback by the news that New York’s third-term governor would be stepping down in 14 days, but say they still believe there needs to be accountability.
“I was kind of in disbelief,” Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh said. “I have been calling on him to resign since March.”
“It was later than it should have been, but at least it was done in time to spare us the next couple of month, dealing with a governor who is trying to cling to power while the vehicles of accountability continue to roll forward,” Deputy Senate Majority Leader Mike Gianaris explained.
“Glad that he's stepped aside, but weary of his ability to actually understand the impact and the harm that he's had on these 11 women,” Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said.
Before Cuomo officially announced he would be stepping aside, the governor doubled down, saying that the attorney general’s investigation, which substantiated claims of at least 11 women who say Cuomo sexually harassed them, was politically motivated.
He also said the women misinterpreted his jokes and blamed what he called generational differences.
Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, however, knocked this defense.
“We cannot pretend and we cannot keep pretending that this is a shock to us, that this is something that we've only just learned about it,” Biaggi said. “It has been the worst kept secret and now it's an exposed secret, that Andrew Cuomo is somebody who has fostered a toxic workplace, in his workplaces, for decades.”
Cuomo’s resignation comes on the heels of an announcement by Assembly impeachment investigators that articles of impeachment could be drafted by the end of this month.
Lawmakers are investigating not only the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, but also if he used state resources to help write his $5.1 million pandemic book, if the Cuomo administration covered up the number of COVID-19 nursing home deaths and more.
Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, who is part of the Assembly impeachment team, said she would like to see the impeachment investigation continue, so families can receive justice on the nursing home issue and New Yorkers can receive closure on other outstanding allegations.
“We’re well underway, there are subpoenas that have been issued, there are statements that have been given, there are hundreds of thousands of documents that have been produced,” Assemblywoman Walsh said. “So I just feel like it would be wrong for us to just walk away. I'm sure that the governor would like us to do that.”
Assemblyman Charles Lavine, who chairs the committee leading the impeachment investigation, said on Monday that if the governor did resign, the Assembly would still consider moving forward if for no other reason than to keep Cuomo from running again for a statewide office.
Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who is part of the impeachment team, said it is unclear at this point how or if the impeachment investigation will continue and lawmakers will be meeting with attorneys to discuss their legal options on Monday.
However, Abinanti said he does believe lawmakers at the very least have an obligation to release a report on what they have discovered.
“We have to see if we have the jurisdiction to do that,” Abinanti said. “And we have to see if there's the political will to do that. But at a minimum, I think we do have to make a report back to the Assembly on our findings and how long that takes, I'm not quite sure.”
Impeachment investigators also gave Cuomo a Friday deadline to submit any final documents related to the impeachment investigation. It is unclear if he will still have to meet that deadline.