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Pressure mounts on Cuomo to resign

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Mike Groll/Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo

One day after New York State Attorney General Tish James released a report finding Gov. Andrew Cuomo violated multiple state and federal laws by sexually harassing 11 women, the governor faces four new criminal probes and more calls for him to step down.

In addition to the Albany County District Attorney, who said a criminal investigation is ongoing, the district attorneys in Manhattan and Westchester and Nassau counties have requested documents from the attorney general to launch possible criminal probes.

There’s also an ongoing federal investigation into the governor’s handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials from President Joe Biden to the leader of the state’s Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, have now joined calls for Cuomo to resign. An overnight poll from Marist College finds 59% of New Yorkers, including 52% of Democrats, now believe the governor should leave office.

Despite that, the governor has not updated his recorded message released Tuesday. In it, he said he is staying.

“I will not be distracted from that job. We have a lot to do,” Cuomo said. “We still have to manage the COVID beast. It is not dead yet. It's not over.”

If he doesn’t voluntarily leave, it’s increasingly likely that Cuomo will face impeachment in the Assembly and a trial in the state Senate.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said an ongoing impeachment inquiry will be expedited.

Assemblyman Phil Steck of the Capital Region is on the Judiciary Committee, which is conducting the inquiry through an outside law firm. He said the committee is also looking into other allegations, including whether Cuomo improperly used staff to help him write and edit a book, for which he was paid $5 million. But he said it’s possible the impeachment could be based on the sexual harassment report alone.

“If the Judiciary Committee, through their attorneys, said that this information is definitely sound enough to warrant voting an article of impeachment, it could be the basis for an article of impeachment,” Steck said.

Senator Brad Hoylman, appearing on WNYC’s "The Brian Lehrer Show," said impeachment and a Senate trial is all but inevitable if the governor does not leave on his own.

“Goodness knows, we have enough detail to demonstrate a pattern of abuse of power at the highest levels of state government,” Hoylman said.

Most of the members of the Senate Majority Democratic conference have previously called on Cuomo to resign.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said his members would like to move to the trial stage as quickly as possible.

“Our conference stands ready to come back immediately to deal with this,” Ortt said.

The impeachment inquiry committee is scheduled to reconvene on Monday.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.