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Wake Up To Politics - August 5, 2021

Wake Up To Politics: What’s next for Andrew Cuomo?
Wake Up To Politics - August 5, 2021

Good morning! It’s Thursday, August 5, 2021. Election Day 2022 is 460 days away. Election Day 2024 is 1,188 days away.

What’s next for Andrew Cuomo?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is losing allies, fast.

Cuomo has quietly hung on to his governorship since multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct this spring. But an explosive investigative report by state Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) released on Tuesday has placed his political survival back in doubt.

To recap: James’ investigation, which Cuomo himself had called for, concluded that the governor violated state and federal law by sexually harassing 11 women, including current and former aides, as well as a state trooper. The report included several allegations of Cuomo touching the women without their consent and also found that he ran an office “filled with fear and intimidation,” which “allowed the sexual harassment to occur and persist.”

So what happens now? Here are some possibilities:

→ Resignation. Every member of New York’s congressional delegation has called for Cuomo to resign, as have President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and a long list of other political figures.

Cuomo lost several of his closest allies on Wednesday — “The Abandonment of Andrew Cuomo,” the New York Times called it — as state party chair Jay Jacobs and state NAACP chief Hazel Dukes (who Cuomo once called his “second mother”) pulled their support.

Simply stepping down may be the path of least resistance for the once-feared governor, but it doesn’t seem like one he’s willing to take. According to the Washington Post, Cuomo remains “defiant” and “in denial about his future.” As one person close to him told the Post, “He’s not the kind of guy who will just resign. It’s over, but he won’t admit that yet.” (Cuomo also denies the allegations made against him.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing calls to resign from some of his closest allies. (William Volcov/Shutterstock)

→ Impeachment. That brings us to the next possible course of action. The New York state legislature opened an impeachment investigation in March, but the efforts gained steam this week as it became clear Cuomo was unlikely to voluntarily step aside. “It is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office,” state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-NY), a former Cuomo ally who will oversee the impeachment process, said in a statement.

Impeachment would only require a simple majority vote in the Assembly, which is the lower chamber of the state legislature. (According to the Associated Press, at least 86 of the body’s 150 members, more than a majority, back impeachment.) The charges would then be tried by a “High Court of Impeachment,” which is a jury composed of members of the state Senate — except for the majority leader, who is in the gubernatorial line of succession — and the state Supreme Court. If at least two-thirds of those 69 individuals vote for his conviction, Cuomo would be removed from office.

According to the New York Times, the impeachment inquiry is expected to take about a month to conclude, meaning the trial could begin as soon as late September or early October. Only one of New York’s 56 governors have been impeached and removed from office: William Sulzer, who was ousted in 1912 over allegations that he diverted campaign funds to purchase stocks for himself.

One twist in the process: under New York state law, Cuomo would be expected to temporarily leave office during the trial if he is impeached. (He can return if the “High Court” acquits him, but he is done for good if they convict.) That means that as long as Cuomo is impeached by the state Assembly, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) is in line to become the first female governor of the country’s fourth-most populous state, at least on an acting basis.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul could soon become the first female governor of New York. (Benjamin Norman/New York Times)

Prosecution. At the same time as Cuomo faces the threat of impeachment, he is also in serious legal jeopardy, which could expedite his exit from office. Four district attorneys — in Manhattan, Westchester County, Nassau County, and Albany County — are eyeing possible criminal investigations into Cuomo.

Each of the prosecutors has requested documents from the attorney general’s office to draw on her civil investigation to see if any crimes had been committed by the governor in their jurisdictions.

In addition to the criminal probes, former Cuomo adviser Lindsay Boylan — who was the first woman to accuse him of harassment — is also planning to sue the governor. James’ report found that Cuomo’s aides retaliated against Boylan after she came forward with her allegations.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is one of the prosecutors to request information on Cuomo’s alleged misconduct. (Ben Fractenberg/The City)

Survival. Right now, this certainly seems like the least probable option. Cuomo does have some models from recent political history to look to: former President Donald Trump survived two impeachments, while Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) remains in office despite once being abandoned by his party and facing pressure to resign. But the New York governor’s political standing grows more tenuous by the day, making it seems less and less like he will be able to pull off such a feat.

One change from this week that could seal Cuomo’s fate? He seems to have lost the support of New York voters, who previously stood by him even as the initial misconduct allegations dribbled out. As recently as late May, a plurality of New York voters (49%) said Cuomo should not resign, according to a Siena College poll. But a new Marist College survey released on Wednesday found that 59% of New Yorkers now say he should resign, with the same percentage backing impeachment if he does not step aside.

Keep in mind that Cuomo has still not offered any indication that he’s changed his mind about running for a fourth term next year. But New Yorkers may have changed his mind for him: just 12% of the state’s registered voters say he deserves to be re-elected, according to the Marist poll.

The Rundown

More top stories to know.

CORONAVIRUS: “The number of COVID-19 infections worldwide topped 200 million on Wednesday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.” Axios

  • “The Biden administration is developing a plan to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of eventually lifting travel restrictions that bar much of the world from entering the United States, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday.” Reuters

CONGRESS: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would repeal the authorizations for the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq in a move that shows how far the two political parties have traveled on issues of war and the power to wage it.” Bloomberg

  • Three Republicans on the panel — Rand Paul (KY), Rob Portman (OH), and Todd Young (IN) — joined with Democrats in voting to repeal the military authorizations, which have been used by presidents of both parties to justify various incursions into the Middle East. The repeal measure is expected to surpass the 60-vote filibuster threshold when it lands on the Senate floor later this year.
Total Covid cases by continent, as the world surpasses 200 million reported infections. (Our World in Data)

EVICTIONS: “A group of property managers and realtors lodged objections in a Washington federal court to [the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium] late Wednesday... Rather than file a fresh lawsuit challenging the new moratorium, the plaintiffs submitted an emergency motion in their previously filed case, asking a judge to apply a ruling against the last eviction ban to the new CDC effort.” Wall Street Journal

  • Even as he announced the new eviction ban on Tuesday, Biden himself acknowledged that it may not be legal. “The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden said, adding that “there are several key scholars who think that it may and it’s worth the effort.”

Ask Gabe

Your questions, answered.

Q: Who won the “Trump Race” in Ohio? Your coverage on Tuesday had me interested. — Edward C.

A: There were two high-profile Ohio House primaries on Tuesday: a Democratic primary in the 11th district, and a Republican primary in the 15th. I previewed them both that morning, but only reported on the Democratic results on Wednesday, so I appreciate the opportunity to make up for that here.

Mike Carey, the coal lobbyist backed by former President Donald Trump, easily won the GOP primary: he took 37% of the vote, while the second-place finisher (state Rep. Jeff LaRe) ended with 13.3%. The contest was seen as a key test of the power of Trump’s endorsement, especially after the former president backed a losing horse in a recent Texas race; Carey’s win offered a reminder that Trump still remains the most important voice in GOP primaries.

Former President Trump shaking hands with lobbyist Mike Carey, who won an Ohio primary this week with Trump’s endorsement. (Jabin Botsford/Washington Post)

Q: I noted your NPR-sourced report about NYC’s vaccine requirements for indoor patronage. My understanding from local press accounts was that this goes into effect on August 16.  Your report says September 13, a date that makes no sense. Why would they delay this going into effect a month later when new cases are rising now? — Arthur L.

A: Both dates are actually relevant here. New York City’s new requirements for indoor activities do begin to take effect on August 16, but enforcement won’t begin until September 13. City officials said this was to allow for a transition period, and that the September 13 date was pegged to coincide with the first day of school in the city. September 13 is also the date by which city workers are required to be vaccinated or face weekly testing.

The delayed start of enforcement also gives people an opportunity to get vaccinated before they would be excluded from activities like indoor dining, since a two-dose vaccine regimen takes up to four weeks to complete.

Do you have a question about politics or about something in the newsletter? Send it my way at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com!


What’s happening in Washington today. (All times Eastern) Executive Branch
President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 9:30 a.m. Later, he will meet with Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander civil rights leaders at 11:30 a.m. to discuss his economic agenda, immigration reform, anti-Asian hate crimes, voting rights, and the 9th anniversary of the 2012 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

At 3 p.m., Biden will deliver remarks on electric vehicles and sign an executive order setting a target for zero-emission vehicles to make up half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030.

At 4:30 p.m., he will sign H.R. 3325 into law and deliver remarks; the legislation will award Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Police Department for their defense of the Capitol on January 6.

Vice President Kamala Harris will join Biden for his meeting with civil rights leaders and will also deliver remarks at the bill signing.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will hold a virtual roundtable at 1 p.m. with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and student leaders who have been working to increase youth vaccinations.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 1 p.m. She will be joined by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

U.S. public health officials will hold their weekly press briefing on COVID-19 at 11 a.m. Participants will include Dr. Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Legislative Branch
The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m. and resume consideration of amendments to the bipartisan infrastructure package, formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. At 11:30 a.m., the chamber will hold a cloture vote to advance the nomination of Eunice Lee to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the Second Circuit.

The House is not in session.
Judicial Branch
The Supreme Court is on recess until October.

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