Cuomo lawyers ask AG to amend sexual harassment report

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a COVID-19 briefing in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan on June 2.

ALBANY — The clock is ticking for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A team of attorneys with independent law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP advised Cuomo’s counsel in a letter Thursday the governor and his attorneys have eight days to submit evidence in the Assembly’s impeachment investigation — warning the nearly five-month probe is coming to an end.

“We write to inform you that the committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client,” according to the letter. “Accordingly, we invite you to provide any additional evidence or written submissions that you would like the committee to consider before its work concludes. To the extent that you wish to share any such materials with the committee, please do so by no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2021.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, said the chamber’s investigation to remove the governor from office over several scandals that erupted in March is being prioritized to conclude as quickly as possible after state Attorney General Letitia James’ office released a 168-page report Tuesday that found the governor sexually harassed at least 11 women, breaking state and federal laws. The report detailed numerous accounts of Cuomo engaging former and current state employees in jarring gropes, hugs, kisses and increasingly suggestive sexual comments and confirmed allegations the governor slipping his hand beneath one current female staffer’s blouse and cupping her breast during a hug in the Governor’s Mansion last fall.

Davis Polk & Wardwell leads the ongoing Assembly’s impeachment investigation into Gov. Cuomo, hired by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Committee counsel have previously requested Gov. Cuomo submit relevant documents in his possession pertaining to the investigation and issued a subpoena for the materials, according to a statement from Assemblymember Charles Lavine’s office Thursday.

The 21-member committee continues to expect full compliance from the governor, according to Lavine.

Lavine, D-Glen Cove, chairs the Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to meet in Albany at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Hearing Room B in the Legislative Office Building across from the state Capitol.

The committee last provided an impeachment probe update into Gov. Cuomo on June 30. A team of counsel with independent law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP continues to examine more than 100,000 documents including emails, texts, letter correspondences, personnel records and more as part of the Assembly’s investigation.

Earlier this spring, Lavine said he is pleased with the investigators’ progress.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, would take over leading the state after articles of impeachment are delivered, which would force Cuomo to step aside.

An Assembly impeachment resolution must be passed by a simple 76-vote majority in the state Legislature, forcing the governor to resign.

The lower house has 150 members. If passed, the Assembly speaker would draw up articles of impeachment and deliver them to the state Senate, which would hold a trial to convict the governor.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, feels Cuomo, who denies the facts in the attorney general’s report and has refused to resign, is in denial that lawmakers would vote to remove him from office.

“Everything I know about him and all of his actions, and you look at his statement thus far have been of a person who’s going to fight to the very end, and they’re going to try to cling to that power,” Ortt said on the Joe Piscopo Show on Thursday morning. “This is what he knows. This is his life.”

Cuomo, in his third term, has been governor for more than a decade. He previously served as the state attorney general and worked as the Housing Secretary in President Bill Clinton’s administration.

“I don’t think he believes that the state Legislature that the Democrats in the Assembly and in the Senate... I don’t think that the governor believes that they’re actually going to impeach him, and until he believes that, he’s going to continue to try to dig in and stay there,” Ortt said.

Every New York state and federal lawmaker in both parties has called for Cuomo’s resignation after the release of Tuesday’s bombshell report.

The governor has continued to lose the support of longtime political allies, including Democratic Party Committee Chair Jay Jacobs on Wednesday, and a growing number of labor unions.

“The recent announcement of substantiated claims of sexual harassment at the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is both disappointing and disheartening,” 1199SEIU President George Gresham said in a statement Thursday. “Our hearts are with the victims as they seek justice and healing for the wrongs they have experienced. We unequivocally condemn this and all sexual harassment and urge Gov. Cuomo to resign.

“Labor unions are responsible for fighting for safer working conditions and rights for workers, and this includes the right to be free from harassment,” Gresham added. “No one can be exempt, and no one is above the law.”

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