Republicans in the state Assembly on Thursday moved to begin an impeachment process for Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid the ongoing controversy surrounding nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution as proposed by Republicans would create an impeachment commission to investigate Cuomo's handling of nursing homes and efforts to conceal data surrounding fatalities of residents during the pandemic. A 60-day deadline would be set for the commission to conduct its work and release findings to lawmakers.
“The Cuomo Administration’s nursing home cover-up is one of the most alarming scandals we’ve seen in state government,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay.
“Intentionally withholding critical information from the public, underreporting fatality numbers by 50 percent and the recent revelation they hid the truth to avoid a federal Department of Justice investigation are among the factors that raise the serious possibility of criminality. It is incumbent upon the Legislature to undertake a comprehensive, bipartisan review of the Cuomo Administration’s policies, decisions and actions on this matter and render a decision on what steps must be taken to hold the governor accountable.”
Cuomo has acknowledged his office should have moved faster to release data on nursing home deaths during the pandemic, but said it first had to respond to a federal inquiry last year.
State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, an ally of the governor, blasted the impeachment move.
"I think it's the height of hypocrisy for a group that was silent when a Republican president was referring to the pandemic as a Democrat hoax and threatening to withhold PPE and other vital supplies to New York state and was silent when a Republican president spent 11 weeks talking about a stolen election which he knew was a lie and then fomented an election which ended with three police officers dead, many others injured. We heard nothing from them," Jacobs said in an interview. "It was like Rip Van Winkle."
Democrats hold supermajority control of the state Senate and Assembly. But Cuomo's support among rank-and-file lawmakers has taken a toll in recent weeks, including this week when Assemblyman Ron Kim said in interviews the governor had threatened him in a phone call over the nursing home issue.
Cuomo's office in a statement said Kim is lying.
Democrats in the state Senate are expected in the coming days to scale back Cuomo's power granted last year to respond to the pandemic. Assembly Democrats are expected to discuss that issue next Monday in a closed-door meeting.
Only governor, William Sulzer in 1913, has been impeached and removed from office in New York history.