New York state Senator Samra Brouk has called for the impeachment of Governor Andrew Cuomo if he does not “immediately resign” following areleased Tuesday that him of sexually harassing 11 women and breaking federal and state laws.
“This is a governor that has to go,” Brouk told CBSN’s Tanya Rivero. “He’s lost the trust of his people. These women deserve justice and I think all New Yorkers deserve a leader who doesn’t act in these egregious ways and leaders who can take accountability for their actions.”
An independent investigation from the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, said Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former employees, as well as women outside of his administration. The probe found a “hostile” and “unsafe” work environment, including allegations that Cuomo retaliated against one of his staffers for speaking out against him. James said 74,000 pieces of evidence were reviewed.
Cuomo denied the accusations, saying in a prerecorded video that his gestures have been out of good intention and are part of his culture and generation.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” the governor said. “I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
Brouk, who represents the Rochester area, said Cuomo’s response “is not really much of a defense.” “The quickest way to end this ugly chapter is for the governor to resign,” she said.
Her call joins a growing number of top Democrats, legislators and evenwho have called for Cuomo’s resignation since the independent investigation’s release.
“The Governor has lost his ability to govern, both practically and morally,” said New York State Democratic Party Chairman and longtime Cuomo ally, Jay Jacobs, in a statement. “The Party and this State will not be well served by a long, protracted removal process designed only to delay what is now, clearly inevitable.”
If the governor does not step down, Brouk said it is her duty as senator to begin the process of impeachment, which in New York can begin with an investigation by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, but it is not required. Impeachment requires the majority of the 150-member Assembly to support it. If he is impeached by the Assembly, it would then be moved over to the High Court of Impeachment, consisting of all sitting state senators — minus the majority leader — and the seven members of New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to decide on removal. To be removed from office, two-thirds of the High Court of Impeachment must vote to convict him.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would then step in should Cuomo either resign or be impeached and removed from office. He would be the second governor removed from office via impeachment in New York history.
On Wednesday, a majority of New York State Assembly members were found to favor impeaching Cuomo should he not resign, according to a count from the Associated Press. New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement Tuesday that Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.” Brouk said there are a “growing number of New York senators” who also believe impeachment proceedings would be the right next steps.
“This is not something that we take lightly,” Brouk said. “This is a major, major consequential step and that’s why I want folks to understand that we didn’t come to this decision lightly nor quickly. We have looked at bodies of evidence.”
She said she stands ready as state senator to remove Cuomo from office “as quickly as possible.”