The state Assembly won’t pursue impeachment charges against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo once his resignation takes effect, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Friday.
Heastie (D-Bronx), in an interview with Newsday, said an Assembly investigation found "credible evidence" against Cuomo and likely would have resulted in impeachment charges.
But the primary purpose of the impeachment proceeding was to determine whether the governor should stay in office following sexual harassment claims and other allegations regarding actions that Cuomo took during the pandemic, Heastie said.
The governor’s decision to step down, announced Tuesday, effectively makes the question moot. Cuomo's resignation is to take effect Aug. 24.
Heastie said another driver in the decision to "suspend" proceedings is that the state constitution doesn’t clearly "authorize the Legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office."
"We don’t believe we do" have the authority to continue once Cuomo departs, Heastie said. The speaker added that he understood and agreed with Cuomo accusers who say the governor should be held accountable, but impeachment wouldn’t be an available avenue once the governor leaves.
Legislators would not have finished their investigation before Aug. 24.
Instead, the Assembly will do the "next best thing": turning over its evidence to various law enforcement agencies investigating Cuomo, Heastie said.
The attorney general has been looking into Cuomo’s $5.1 million book deal, Heastie noted. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the nursing home data. And prosecutors in five counties, including Nassau, have said they are looking into alleged sexual harassment incidents.
"The thing is, the federal government, the ... [attorney general] and local ... [prosecutors] are doing their own investigations," Heastie said. "We have not finished gathering evidence and we didn’t want to interfere with their investigations. So the next best thing to do is to turn over our evidence so they can conclude" their investigations.
Because of those other ongoing investigations, the Assembly won’t make the evidence publicly available at this time, a Heastie spokesman said.
Cuomo will be gone but nothing will fundamentally change.