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New York State Assembly Suspends Cuomo Impeachment Investigation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is off the hook.

The state Assembly has announced it will suspend its impeachment investigation.

Officials say they don't have the authority to impeach someone no longer in office.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reports, Friday the 13th turned out to be a lucky day for Cuomo.

Well, sort of.

There will be no ugly, drawn out impeachment hearings in Albany. But at the same time, officials plan to turn over all the dirt they uncovered to federal and state prosecutors.

READ MORE: TIMELINE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Under Investigation

"Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is to step aside," Cuomo said when he made his resignation announcement. He was talking about helping New Yorkers recover from the swirling scandals that engulfed his administration.

Turns out, wily politician that he is, that he was also helping himself.

It seems his resignation made it impossible for the legislature to continue its impeachment proceedings.

WEB EXTRARead The AG's Report | Exhibits 1 | Exhibits 2 | Exhibits 3 | Cuomo's Response

According to a statement released by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly lawyers determined "that the constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office."

But even though he must vacate the executive mansion on August 24, the governor is not out of the woods. Heastie said that the Assembly Judiciary Committee did uncover "credible evidence" of the governor's bad behavior.

"This evidence concerned not only sexual harassment and misconduct but also the misuse of state resources in relation to the publication of the governor's memoir as well as improper and misleading disclosure of nursing home data during the COVID-19 pandemic," Heastie said. "This evidence - we believe - could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned."

Watch Marcia Kramer's report -- 

Heastie included a memo from the Judiciary Committee outlining jurisdictional concerns over an impeachment investigations involving someone no longer in office.

WEB EXTRA: Read The Memo (.pdf) 

Cuomo's first accuser Lindsey Boylan did not like the decision one bit.

"The Assembly's decision to call off its impeachment investigation is an unjust cop out," Boylan tweeted. "The public deserves to know the extent of the governor's misdeeds and possible crimes. His victims deserve justice and to know he will not be able harm others."

And Senate Republican leader Robb Ortt said the move "reeks of a shady deal to protect Andrew Cuomo."

Rochester St. Sen. Jeremy Cooney, a Democrat, said the constitution should be amended to prevent this from happening again.

"Survivors deserve accountability for his sexual harassment and our citizens need answers for thousands of nursing home deaths during the pandemic," Cooney said.

St. Sen. Charles Lavine, the head of the Judiciary Committee, told Kramer all the evidence collected by investigators would be turned over the five district attorneys and federal officials probing the governor.

So far, there is no response from Cuomo's office to a request for comment.

"Only in New York could an impeachment investigation into the governor be concluded by a Friday afternoon news dump without consultation with the members of the committee conducting the investigation!" wrote Assemblyman Ed Ra, a frequent critic of Cuomo's.

Ra is fuming.

"This is a really, really bad look for Albany," he told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

While Heastie insists the state Constitution does not authorize the legislature to impeach and remove an elected official who is no longer in office, why were so many committee members under the impression they could continue the investigation?

"One of the things that leaves a real sour taste in my mouth is, to me, the speaker empowered this committee to undertake this investigation. I think they have to be permitted to take it to its conclusion," Ra said.

As New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy pointed out earlier this week, "The taxpayers have already paid the bill."

Friday night, the outraged Republican members of that committee said in part, the decision "runs contrary to the goals of transparency and accountability" and "represents an egregious insult to the countless victims of Gov. Cuomo's actions."

"New Yorkers deserve an effective and independent legislative branch of government. The Assembly's refusal to fulfill its constitutionally mandated role is disheartening and unacceptable. Halting the impeachment process - without even a public discussion - is shameful," said Executive Director of Common Cause/NY Susan Lerner. "The failure to move forward is setting a bad precedent that elected officials, who abuse the system, can resign on their own terms without facing full accountability. New Yorkers deserve the facts and transparency -- and right now, they are left in the dark. Not only must the Assembly immediately release the results of the tax-payer funded outside investigation into Governor Cuomo's conduct, the Assembly and Senate must establish evidentiary hearings immediately in light of the failure to proceed with the impeachment investigation. The facts that they uncover should lead to meaningful -- and needed -- legislation, including ethics reform and fiscal oversight of the Executive so that future governors don't abuse their office."

There are still criminal investigations involving Cuomo in five New York counties, including Manhattan, Westchester and Nassau.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.


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