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Impeachment

NY lawmakers look to a potential impeachment future

State lawmakers will conclude the 2021 legislative session on Thursday with a lot of the same questions most of state Capitol’s denizens have been asking for the last several weeks. 

When will Attorney General Letitia James release her report on the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Governor Cuomo? What direction will the federal government’s investigation into nursing home deaths take? Will the governor face impeachment?

On that last question, lawmakers are taking modest steps to prepare for that potential outcome. Top leaders in the Assembly and Senate have introduced a funding bill for impeachment. 

Republicans, meanwhile, questioned whether the two judicial candidates nominated to fill vacancies on the state Court of Appeals could sufficiently play an independent role in an impeachment. By quirk of law, judges on the state’s top court would act as jurors. 

“I will look at the facts, I will look at the applicable law, I will independent decisions,” said Madeline Singas, the Nassau County district attorney who was confirmed Tuesday for the court. “That’s my oath to you.”

But that’s not good enough for some Republicans in the Legislature, including Sen. Sue Serino. She’s introduced a package of bills that would prevent Cuomo-appointed judges from acting as jurors in an impeachment as outlined in the state constitution and also bar governors facing impeachment from appointed judges to the court.  

“We are leaving the Capitol in just a couple days and nothing is being done,” Serino said. “Where have you ever seen something like this happen where a governor is picking his judges that could be at his impeachment trial?”

Serino is not necessarily convinced of the pledge to remain independent on the bench. Due to retirements and his length of tenure in office, Cuomo has appointed all of the current judges on the court. 

“I’m sure they try to be, but the facts are the governor appoints them,” she said. “It’s not like being where we are. We’re elected representatives. It’s the people voting for us.” 

In the Assembly, Republican Michael Lawler remains impatient over the slow pace of the process. An impeachment investigation began weeks ago and has drawn in a wide range of controversies facing Cuomo. Prominent Democrats prior to the investigation’s formation in the Assembly called for Cuomo to step down.  

“I mean, the first class for his resignation stretch all the way back to the beginning of the year with the nursing home debacle,” Lawler said. “The fact that we are approaching the end of session and still have no clear direction as to whether or not there will be an impeachment of the governor is really shameful.”

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