The New York Assembly impeachment inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo is making progress and lawyers have spoken with 75 individuals and reviewed 290 messages received through a tip hotline, the state judiciary committee chairman said Wednesday.
In only the third public meeting among New York state lawmakers leading an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo, the committee has been accused of slow-walking a probe set up earlier this year to investigate multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and claims his administration undercounted coronavirus deaths at nursing homes, claims he’s denied.
The scope of the Assembly’s investigation has since expanded to include allegations he misused public office to market a $5 million leadership book at the height of the pandemic and claims he provided family members with special access to Covid-19 testing when those tests were difficult to access in the early days of the disease’s spread.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is serving as counsel for the judiciary committee and has spoken with approximately 75 individuals and entities with information about the probe and reviewed 290 emails and voice mails sent to a tip hotline, according to Charles Lavine, who is leading the impeachment inquiry. The lawyers have “reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents, emails, texts, photos” and other material, Lavine said. “I’m pleased with the progress so far.”
He addressed criticism that a $250,000 cap set on lawyer fees wasn’t enough to properly resource the investigation and said the cap was only for an initial contract, which can and likely will be amended.
There’s no timetable set for the impeachment inquiry and critics say that has allowed the three-term Democrat to push right past a political tsunami once thought to augur his downfall.
“We should have gone straight into impeachment when we had enough evidence to make that decision to remove him from a position of power, to hold him accountable,” said Assembly member Ron Kim, in an interview. “What we’ve created is this space for Cuomo to use his position and public resources to re-brand himself. Everything he’s done so far is political theater.”
The three-term governor has denied all allegations of improper behavior and has refused to step down, despite calls by dozens of state and federal lawmakers to leave office earlier this year. Cuomo is also facing federal investigations into the state’s handling of nursing home deaths, and state probes overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
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