Attorneys prepare subpoenas, secure documents in Cuomo probe

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

ALBANY — Officials will start to issue subpoenas to advance an impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo after attorneys spent months gathering relevant evidence, including interviewing witnesses and procuring thousands of emails and text messages, lawmakers said.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee will issue subpoenas to various witnesses as part of the Legislature’s independent probe into allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against the governor and a multitude of other accusations. The committee met Wednesday morning.

A team of attorneys with independent law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP leads the Assembly’s investigation and can receive testimony from witnesses under oath, Assemblymember Charles Lavine, D-Glen Cove, said Wednesday.

Davis Polk & Wardwell has obtained more than 100,000 documents including emails, texts, letter correspondences, personnel records, training materials, transcripts and more in gathering evidence in its months-long investigation, Lavine said before the committee entered executive session.

“I am very pleased with the continued process of this investigation,” said Lavine, who chairs the Judiciary Committee.

Lavine indicated the Assembly’s investigation is not near completion, but did not specify how long it will continue.

Attorneys have received multiple documents from legislative counsel, interviewed hundreds of people and continue to take steps to secure evidence.

“The purpose of their process is to gather substantive evidence as well as to assess the credibility and corroborate information learned during these interviews,” Lavine said.

Lavine served Cuomo a notice of non-retaliation March 15, mandating the governor cannot retaliate against any person who serves as a witness in the Legislature’s impeachment investigation.

Issuing subpoenas could serve as an added layer of protection for legislative staffers and counsel who fear retaliation in giving testimony.

Assembly-hired attorneys with Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP updated the 21-member Assembly Judiciary Committee about the latest details of the investigation in executive session for more than an hour Wednesday morning. The committee had not publicly met in more than a month.

The committee commenced an impeachment investigation in March after at least nine current and former staffers accused the governor of sexual harassment and misconduct and the federal government started a probe that Cuomo’s top aides intentionally underreported state COVID-19 death data in nursing homes and congregate care.

State Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, and federal prosecutors continue to investigate the governor’s multiple scandals in separate inquiries unrelated to the Legislature’s probe.

James is pleased with the current trajectory of her probe into Cuomo and his administration, which includes examining the safety of the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge, or Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, if the governor directed or had knowledge of executive aides withholding information about the bridge’s safety concerns or attempted to suppress related investigations; and allegations that Cuomo helped family and friends get access to scarce coronavirus tests early on during the pandemic.

The attorney general declined to disclose further details of the ongoing investigation during an event at the state Capitol last week, but said the concurrent Legislature and federal probes into the governor have not conflicted.

The Judiciary Committee expanded its scope in April to determine if Cuomo used state employees or resources to help publish his $5.1 million coronavirus memoir “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The governor has pushed back against repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Members of the public can provide relevant information to the state Assembly team conducting the impeachment investigation via a confidential hotline. Send a tip to ny.assembly.investigation@davispolk.com or call 1-212-450-3600.

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