The ultimate goal of the Legislature’s impeachment investigation into alleged misconduct by Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be about obtaining justice.
It shouldn’t be about protecting the governor’s reputation, or helping him ride out the political storm, or providing legislators with cover from voters.
If the investigation is allowed to drag on interminably, or if it’s conducted outside the view of the public, then the citizens will not be able to trust its outcome, regardless of what the evidence says.
But already, it appears the Assembly’s investigation is leaning in that direction.
On Tuesday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee convened to begin the investigation — which is expected to cover sexual harassment allegations against the governor and the Cuomo administration’s handling of the covid nursing home crisis.
Committee Chairman Charles Lavine said of the inquiry afterward that “the timing will be in terms of months rather than weeks.”
Lawmakers also wouldn’t commit to holding public hearings, a possible indication they plan to conduct the inquiry in secret.
Remember, this isn’t the actual impeachment. The purpose of these proceedings, according to the chairman, is to “assess whether there’s evidence that the governor has engaged in conduct that justifies articles of impeachment.”
The actual impeachment could add even more months to the timetable.
The more time drags on, the more clear it may become that the governor, heading into his re-election year, will survive the storm, with the public having moved on, witnesses having clammed up, accusers having lost patience and trust in the process, and with Cuomo having interrupted any momentum his potential challengers could have mustered.
Already, a couple of accusers say they don’t trust the process enough to participate.
Maybe that’s the way Democratic leaders in the Legislature want this to play out. They control the process, and therefore the outcome. It’s not beyond the realm.
But that outcome may not be the best one for New Yorkers and the accusers.
The best way for the Assembly to handle this investigation is efficiently and openly. Interview the accusers, many of whom have already spoken out on the record, along with any witnesses, in a public setting. Let the people judge for themselves whether the allegations have merit and who in their eyes is credible.
An investigation doesn’t have to be long to be credible.
Making this last longer than necessary through legal and political maneuvering and delay tactics, and conducting it outside the public’s view, will make the citizens view it as a political sham that many believe it already is.
Lawmakers can’t allow that to happen.