Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins are open to impeaching Governor Andrew Cuomo if it’s discovered that his administration intentionally falsified the reporting of COVID-related nursing home deaths earlier this year. Each chamber is contemplating committee investigations, while Republicans have called for a Department of Justice investigation into the matter.
Attorney General Tish James released a scathing report yesterday that revealed that the Cuomo administration underreported pandemic-related nursing home deaths by 50%, after the Governor was criticized for a March executive order in which he mandated that nursing homes admit COVID-positive patients, rather than treating them in hospital settings and isolating them from others.
The policy is thought to have caused more than 10,000 unnecessary deaths. The Governor’s harshest critics have alleged that he pursued the policy intentionally, with the aim of reducing Medicare/Medicaid spending.
The report has sent shockwaves through Albany and has almost certainly ended the political career of Mario Cuomo‘s eldest son — a princeling bred to have ambitions on the presidency.
Republican leaders in the Senate and Assembly, Rob Ortt and Will Barclay, are calling on the legislative bodies to rescind the unprecedented executive powers that have enabled Cuomo to issue sweepingly unconstitutional unilateral directives under the color of law.
Ortt has called on Dr. Howard Zucker, the State’s Health Commissioner, to resign for his role in concealing critical information in the middle of the most serious public health crisis in a century.
Impeaching the Governor would require a majority vote of the total of members of Assembly, and a conviction requires a two-thirds majority of the Impeachment Court.
Under the New York State Constitution of 1777, the Court for the Trial of Impeachments still exists. Since 1847, it is comprised of the Lieutenant Governor, the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the associate judges of the Court of Appeals, and the members of the State Senate.
The last time the Court convened was for the trial of Governor William Sulzer in 1913, who was convicted. Chief Judge Edgar M. Cullen, also a Democrat, presided over that trial and voted against conviction.
Upon Cuomo’s removal from office, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul would assume the powers of the office and serve the remaining two years of the current gubernatorial term.