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State Assembly Speaker Has Authorized Impeachment Investigation Into Gov. Cuomo

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing his strongest rebuke yet from members of his own party. This comes after multiple and widening allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct and as lawmakers have questioned his administration's handling of data related to nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the leading Democrat in the state assembly authorized the start of an investigation, and that opens the door to possible impeachment proceedings. Joining us is WNYC's Brigid Bergin. Hey there.

BRIGID BERGIN, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Things are moving real fast on this story. Give us a little more detail on what exactly happened today.

BERGIN: That's right. The morning started with new details reported by the Albany Times Union from a sixth woman alleging sexual misconduct by the governor. That particular case is now being handled. The Albany Police Department has become involved with that, according to multiple reports, and has reached out to that accuser.

Also, more than 50 state lawmakers signed a statement calling for the governor's resignation. That statement then led to the assembly Democratic conference meeting for hours this afternoon. From reports that we have heard, it was a very tense meeting, a lot of back-and-forth among members who - some wanted resignations. Some wanted impeachment. But ultimately, as you said, the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced that the assembly will be pursuing a impeachment inquiry. And it is handed it over to their Judiciary Committee, which will have subpoena power and will be conducting an investigation that will potentially lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings.

KELLY: OK. So just to recap, you're saying we are now at six women who are making allegations against the governor. We have the top Democrat in the state assembly authorizing the start of this investigation. How did the governor end up here?

BERGIN: Well, as you said, it is - there are dueling scandals essentially swirling around the governor. In part, it is related to some of the issues from his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, specifically some concern from state lawmakers about their handling of data about deaths in nursing homes during this crisis. And that goes back to some decisions that were made back in the spring. But at the same time, there's a pattern of behavior here, and these women have been coming forward with allegations.

KELLY: Any reaction tonight from Governor Cuomo?

BERGIN: We haven't heard any reaction from the governor yet to the decision from the assembly. But he has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and he has supported an investigation. And so we will, I'm sure, hear more from him in the coming days.

KELLY: Yeah, it sounds like so much is up in the air and unknown at this point. But if we're trying to figure out what to look for, what might come next, do we know where this investigation goes, where the timing is, what we're expecting?

BERGIN: Well, there are a lot of questions about what the investigation the assembly plans to conduct will look like. There was a previous resolution from the minority party that set a 60-day timeframe around it. We haven't seen any of those details yet. But if they were able to conduct an investigation and bring in an impeachment proceeding to the assembly floor, then, you know, if it were to pass with a majority and move to the Senate, then we would be looking at the court of impeachment for what would only be the second time in New York state's history.

KELLY: All right. That is WNYC's Brigid Bergin. Thank you for bringing us up to speed on the latest unfolding tonight in New York involving Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Thank you, Brigid.

BERGIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.