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The Fall of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Photograph by Mark Peterson / Redux

Everything after the separator is the opinion of this article’s author.

On August 3rd, 2021, New York State Attorney General Letitia James released a 165-page-report concluding that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws.” The attorney general said, “The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments.”

After the report, Democratic leaders quickly called for the governor’s immediate resignation. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Cuomo should resign from office. The speaker of the Democratic-majority New York State Assembly, Carl E. Heastie, stated he expected to finish the impeachment investigation quickly and said the governor can no longer remain in office.

Additionally, governors of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey said in a joint statement that they are “appalled by the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign.”

To support impeachment proceedings, the New York state assembly’s judiciary committee hired outside lawyers to investigate whether or not the scandals are linked to an abuse of the governor’s executive power.

In response to the allegations, Cuomo released a video. “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said. “I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”

With mounting calls for his resignation and a potential impeachment vote, the New York governor is fighting for his political life.

Now that the state investigation has concluded, the next move falls into the hands of the state legislators and arguably the media. If there is greater evidence that Cuomo did abuse his executive power and committed egregious sexual advances, then the New York state legislature must ensure a successful impeachment of the governor. With the increasing pressure from top leaders within his own party to resign, one may assume that he will eventually be impeached because Cuomo has made it clear he is not resigning.

However, unless the media and state legislators continue to apply pressure on Cuomo to resign, there is a chance Cuomo remains in power. Even though he displayed a clear dereliction of duty and blatant disregard for the public’s trust, Cuomo will do everything to cling to what is left of his political career.

Even though the state investigation substantiated the 11 sexual harassment accusations, the civil probe did not find him “guilty” because that power is vested only in a judge and jury, which means two things are presently true at once. The court of public opinion finds him guilty of these heinous sexual violations, and the only way Cuomo is removed from office is if the state legislature and a criminal court similarly find him guilty.

If I had to predict his political future, Cuomo will remain in office until the 2022 New York gubernatorial election. He will not dare seek a fourth term unless he somehow miraculously recovers from this excruciatingly damning state investigation. And the reason why Cuomo may never be impeached is that Letitia James did not conduct a criminal referral at the conclusion of this probe, which shows no prosecution has materialized so far. Also, politicians will remain in power as long as they can.

This is proven by another powerful Democratic governor who faced strong calls for his resignation. In early 2019, Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Nordam faced mounting calls for his resignation after a photo from his medical school’s yearbook showed him in blackface while standing next to a man in a KKK costume. He received intense backlash from black Virginian legislators, and massive protestors strongly condemned the governor.

Then-presidential-candidate Joe Biden said Nordam “lost all moral authority and should resign immediately.” Despite a national rebuke from the country’s most prominent leaders, Nordam refused to resign, and over two years later, he still is the Virginia governor. There are two main reasons why Nordam survived the backlash. First, his would-be successors, the lieutenant governor and third-in-command, respectively faced sexual assault accusations and another blackface allegation. Secondly, he prioritized his policy agenda to appease the black voters within his state, making him, according to the New York Times, the “most racially progressive governor in the state’s history.”

I would not be surprised if Cuomo faced a similar fate. The only differences being are that Nordam admitted to what he was accused of, which was being a racist, and that what Nordam did, despite its deeply evil nature, was not technically illegal. However, as I said before, as long as criminal prosecution is not initiated and there is not a formal impeachment vote, Cuomo will consolidate power and attempt to survive the fallout. But who knows? Maybe Cuomo will resign, or state legislators and prosectors will follow through with real conclusions on his criminal conduct. I hope my prediction of Cuomo’s future political career is later proven to be wrong.

Lastly, in addition to Cuomo sexually violating various women, Cuomo enacted COVID-19 policies that killed tens of thousands of people within his state and then covered up the actual COVID-19 death statistics to make his response look better. To add insult to injury, he decided to profit off of his deceit, manipulation, and negligence by entering into a 5 million dollar book deal on his supposed extraordinary COVID-19 response.

According to the New York Times, the FBI is investigating Cuomo’s administration for deliberately manipulating the overall COVID-19 nursing home deaths. In the Spring of 2020, Cuomo received strong criticism for his state requirement that forced nursing homes to take back elderly patients that recovered from COVID-19. In July of 2020, the State Health Department under his administration released a report that disconnected the policy from rising COVID-19 deaths.

However, in January 2021, the previously mentioned Letitia James concluded that the “state’s previous tally could be off by as much as 50 percent.” This added 3,800 people to the manipulated data. The FBI is also investigating Cuomo’s administration for provided the Justice Department with a false report and overruling health officials when deliberately underreporting the data.

Also, according to the New York Times, the Cuomo administration reportedly buried and hid the death toll for nursing homes, delayed a high-ranking Cuomo aide’s audit of said data, and failed to send a couple of Health department letters that were meant for state legislators.

Now, our nation’s judicial system says that Cuomo is innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Cuomo has yet to be convicted of any crime in a court of law, and an impeachment vote has yet to occur. Therefore, the two scandals of Cuomo altering and providing false COVID-19 death statistics to the Justice Department and the 11 sexual harassment accusations substantiated by a state investigation should justify an immediate impeachment and criminal prosecution.

Not only did Cuomo destroy his moral credibility, but he has also increased public distrust of the government and its COVID-19 response. He is not deserving of the political office he sits in, and it is incumbent on every relevant actor to ensure this governor is prosecuted for his abominable crimes.

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