ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down are growing louder and louder following the investigation revealing he sexually harassed 11 women.
However, the governor has made no indications he plans on resigning, which is why lawmakers have started to look at the state’s impeachment process.
“If he will not resign, we have to impeach. We have to remove him from office. He has broken the law,” said Assemblymember Sarah Clark.
Both Democrat and Republican Assembly members have called on the governor to resign.
“He needs to resign, I wish he would resign. I think that’s the right thing to do. I think everybody thinks that’s the right thing to do,” said Assemblymember Brian Manktelow.
But if the governor doesn’t resign, lawmakers are prepared to move forward with impeachment proceedings.
“I think we owe it to those 11 women to expedite this. I think we owe it to them that we make sure we don’t drop the ball on this,” Manktelow said.
“We have seen the governor time and time again play the victims role regardless of what the issue was. And so if he doesn’t do what good leaders do and resign, I have no doubt and hope beyond the shadow of a doubt that the assembly will not only convene, but vote on articles of impeachment, so that we can move in the right direction in the state of New York,” said Assemblymember Steve Hawley.
So how does the impeachment process work?
In New York, it begins in the State Assembly. A simple majority vote is needed to move the articles of impeachment to the senate. Meaning, 76 of the 150 members of the group would have to vote to impeach.
If this happened, the articles of impeachment would be sent to the senate.
“That impeachment, like an indictment, would be transmitted to the senate and a trial there would happen in the Senate and the Court of Appeals would act as jurors. And if convicted by a two thirds majority, then the governor could be removed from office,” said Attorney Michael Burger with Santiago Burger LLP.
Burger said the process of impeachment is unique in New York. Unlike a presidential impeachment, which has to have some basis for their removal, there isn’t a standard in New York. Burger said it’s “purely political.”
“In theory, the Assembly could say, ‘Andrew Cuomo crossed the street yesterday and therefore he should be removed from office,” Burger said.
If the Assembly votes to more forward with the impeachment trial, Governor Cuomo would be removed of his responsibilities, but not removed from office. This would happen even before the senate trial began. In the meantime, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would take over.
“All of his responsibilities and duties would be vested with lieutenant governor until the trial is concluded. And if the trial in the senate finds that the allegations of impeachment are substantiated, then the governor would be removed from office. If they find that they weren’t, the governor then would be reinvested with his authorities and he would continue,” said Assemblymember Marjorie Byrnes.
New York’s impeachment process for state governor is much different than in the federal government, according to Burger.
“Really, it’s different from just our notion of fairness. In America, you get accused, you get a fair trial before they try to take away something that you worked hard for…and whether that’s fair or not, it’s just up to debate,” Burger said.
Many lawmakers say they hope the Governor would resign before an impeachment trial would begin.
“Everything I have seen, right up to the President of the United States, has demonstrated that the governor has lost the confidence of voters and the people in government that he needs to work with to effectively manage the state. So at this point, I think it’s incumbent for him to resign,” Byrnes said.
Clark said if the governor decided to resign, it would be hopefully be easier for the women who came forward with sexual harassment allegations.
“I definitely think he should resign. I think he would save a lot of time and I think would help the survivors in this situation move forward and be able to process and hopefully heal from what has been inflicted upon them,” Clark said.
While it’s not clear how long the impeachment process would take, Clark applauds the women who came forward and brought their stories to light, helping start that process.
“You are beyond brave. The biggest issue we have had over decades of working to fix the cultural work places, is making sure there is no more shame about coming forward,” Clark said. “So they, no matter what, have to be proud of the fact that we are taking steps forward to ending that shame, ending the culture of not saying anything and making sure that we elevate how important and how much of influence you can have if you do come forward.”
Governor Cuomo has denied the allegations against him in a pre-recorded video Tuesday.
To read the full investigation into Governor Cuomo, click here.