New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied allegations he sexually assaulted an aide at the Executive Mansion. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 11 (UPI) -- The New York State Assembly authorized an impeachment investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday amid growing calls for the Democrat to resign from office.
Carl Heastie, the speaker of the state's Assembly, announced he authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to launch its probe in a statement in which he described the accusations against Cuomo as "serious."
"The committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution," he said.
The announcement came after the New York governor's office said it referred allegations of sexual misconduct by Cuomo to the Albany Police Department.
Cuomo's acting counsel, Beth Garvey, told The New York Times she called the police department Wednesday to report fresh allegations published in the Albany Times Union earlier that day.
"As a matter of state policy, when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department," she said. "If they decline, the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves and inform the department of the allegation.
"In this case, the person is represented by counsel and when the counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney's information."
Albany police spokesman Steve Smith said that while his department did receive the report, it didn't mean it had opened an official investigation.
In the Times Union report, an aide to the governor said he groped her at the Executive Mansion in 2020, reaching under her blouse and touching her. The unidentified woman is the sixth to come forward to accuse Cuomo of misconduct, offering up the most serious allegations yet.
Cuomo denied the new allegations Wednesday, saying he's "never done anything like this."
"The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the attorney general's report," he said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday appointed two attorneys to lead the investigation into the allegations from several women. They will be tasked with issuing subpoenas, examining documents, conducting interviews and analyzing data regarding the allegations and the Cuomo administration's handling of the situation.
Heastie in his statement on Thursday said the impeachment investigation would not interfere with James'.
Last week, Cuomo offered an apology for some of the conduct, saying he felt embarrassed.
"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it.
He declined to resign from office, but with the fresh allegations Wednesday, calls have grown for him to step down. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and some 60 Democrats in the New York Legislature called for Cuomo's resignation over the misconduct allegations as well as the state's efforts to cover up COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
"It's deeply troubling," the mayor said. "The specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his, someone who he had power over, called them to a private place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable to me.
"It is disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor."