ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – For the first time since initiating an impeachment inquiry of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Assembly Judiciary Committee met virtually Tuesday morning. Chairman Charles Lavine, a Democrat, indicated the investigation wouldn’t wrap up any time soon.
“Given the breadth and seriousness of the issues under investigation, we expect the timing will be in terms of months, rather than weeks,” Lavine said.
The chairman said the investigation would include, but not be limited to an exploration of four questions:
- Did the governor use his office to sexually harass or assault women who were his employees?
- Did he direct staff to unlawfully withhold or misrepresent information that was required to be reported to the state legislature or other governmental entities regarding the effects of COVID-19 on New Yorkers?
- Did he direct or have knowledge of executive personnel withholding information regarding safety concerns about New York State bridges?
- And did he direct or have knowledge of executive personnel attempting to suppress related investigations?
“Everything is on the table,” Republican Ranking Member Michael Montesano said.
Lavine defended the selection of Davis Polk & Wardwell to lead the investigation, noting that they have conducted more than 20 sensitive investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct in the past three years. Davis Polk attorneys Angela Burgess, Greg Andres, and Martine Beamon were available at the meeting to answer questions from members of the committee.
Many of those questions included the term “conflict of interest”. Dennis Glazer, a former lawyer at Davis Polk, was appointed chairman of the Purchase College Council by Governor Cuomo in 2019 and is married to the state’s Chief Judge Janet DiFiore.
“Is Dennis Glazer involved with your firm? Do any of you guys socialize with him? Talk to him? Deal with him?” asked Democratic Assemblyman Tom Abinanti.
“Dennis Glazer retired from the partnership back in 2012 and since then has not had any involvement in the firm’s business or activities, and certainly not with respect to this matter has he nor will he going forward,” answered Burgess.
The impeachment investigation is being conducted as New York State Attorney General Letitia James is also overseeing an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo. James’ inquiry is being led by attorneys Joon Kim and Anne Clark.
“We will work to coordinate to the extent possible with the relevant investigators in this case, whether it’s the New York Attorney General’s Office or other offices, which isn’t to say that we won’t also maintain the independence of this investigation,” Andres said.
Lavine, the chairman, also noted during the meeting that he served Cuomo with a notice of non-retaliation, “in other words putting the governor on notice that he and his employees and allies should take no steps towards intimidating any witness or any potential witness.”
Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, a Democrat from Lancaster and member of the Judiciary Committee, called Tuesday’s meeting “very productive”.
“The public has to have confidence in the result,” Wallace said. “The only way they can have confidence in the result is if they have confidence in the process.”
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.