New York state lawmakers announced Thursday that their impeachment investigation of Governor Andrew Cuomo is nearing an end and have given him a 13 August deadline to provide any additional evidence over sexual harassment allegations.
The deadline came as liberal activists with ties to Cuomo were under scrutiny over attempts to discredit one of his accusers.
In a letter sent Thursday, Davis Polk & Wardwell, the law firm leading the investigation, reminded Cuomo’s legal team that it has requested certain documents by subpoena and expected “full compliance from the governor”.
“We write to inform you that the committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client,” they wrote.
The letter was released to the public by the assembly judiciary committeechair, Charles Lavine, a Long Island Democrat. The committee has been investigating whether to impeach the governor over sexual harassment allegations, misleading the public about Covid-19 outbreaks at nursing homes and using state resources and staff for his $5m book deal.
An independent investigation released earlier this week that was overseen by the state attorney general, Letitia James, found that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, and that his administration retaliated against at least one of them for going public with her allegations. Cuomo has denied making any inappropriate sexual advances and insists the findings don’t reflect the facts.
He has resisted numerous calls for his resignation from most of New York’s top Democrats and from Joe Biden, while district attorneys in Manhattan, suburban Westchester and Nassau counties and the state capital of Albany said they asked for investigative materials from the inquiry to see if any of the allegations could result in criminal charges.
As the public backlash against Cuomo grows, so has the scrutiny surrounding his liberal advocates. James’s investigation found that Cuomo’s staff contacted a prominent advocate for sexual harassment victims and the leader of a gay rights group for guidance on how to discredit his accuser, former adviser Lindsey Boylan.
The liberal advocates are attorney Roberta Kaplan, a co-founder of Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign.
The report stated that Cuomo’s aides “intended to discredit and disparage” Boylan by leaking negative information about her to the media.
According to the report, after Boylan publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment last year, David, who is a former counselor to Cuomo, allegedly shared Boylan’s personal file with another top Cuomo adviser, which was then leaked to several reporters.
The report also noted that David helped develop a plan to discredit another accuser in which Cuomo would call her and secretly record their conversation.
David, who has denied wrongdoing, tweeted Tuesday: “After reading the AG’s devastating report that concluded Gov. Cuomo engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, in violation of both federal and state law, he should resign.”
According to the report for the attorney general, at the request of Cuomo’s adviser, Kaplan consulted with Time’s Up’s president, Tina Tchen, about the appropriateness of the letters that Cuomo’s team had planned to release in defense against Boylan’s allegations. The letters attacked Boylan’s political motivations and denied her claims’ legitimacy.
Kaplan has responded to the scrutiny in a statement, saying: “While it turns out the response was never published, I made it very clear that any response should never shame an accuser.” She also added: “Given the revelations in the New York attorney general report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Tchen responded: “You cannot make any attempt to attack or discredit a person who has come forward with allegations,” adding: “Had those parts existed in what was read to me, I would have said, ‘Do not say that.”
Cuomo has been governor for more than a decade. Sexual harassment allegations began to emerge in December. One of Cuomo’s accusers said he groped her breast, and others have said he gave them unwanted kisses or touched parts of their bodies in ways that made them uncomfortable.
The Associated Press contributed to this report