ALBANY — Assembly lawmakers voted unanimously to begin issuing subpoenas to compel witness testimony related to the sexual harassment-focused impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The vote was taken during a closed-door session among Democrat and Republican members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee who met in-person in Albany and were joined virtually by Davis Polk & Wardwell — the New York City law firm charged with conducting the probe.
“The committee will be issuing subpoenas,” announced Assembly Judiciary Chairman Charles Lavine (D-Nassau) during a brief public session of the meeting, after emerging from an hour and a half private, “executive session.”
The body also voted to allow Davis Polk to “act as a commission” under state law, Lavine said.
“That allows our independent counsel to take testimony of witnesses under oath,” He explained.
Four attorneys from Davis Polk gave a presentation detailing investigation updates and lawmakers were allowed to ask questions, sources said.
The panel is investigating multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo, whether the administration willingly withheld information pertaining to coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes and the alleged misuse of state resources tied to his $5.1 million book deal.
Lavine said so far 100,000 documents have been received including “email, texts, and letter correspondence, photographs, training material, policy reports, contracts, transcripts and other material.”
He refused to comment further on the inquiry when asked by reporters after the meeting.
“Up to this point there wasn’t a need, now there’s a need,” said one lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity, describing the need to issue subpoenas.
The official said “current and former” employees in the Cuomo administration will likely be targets of subpoenas.
Lawmakers were not provided a list of names, despite asking for a list during the closed-door section of the meeting.
State Sen. Minority Leader Rob Ortt (R-Lockport) slammed the committee, arguing subpoena power should have been granted in March, when the probe first began,
“Nearly four months after starting their impeachment investigation, the Assembly Judiciary Committee today announced they would issue subpoenas. While it’s nice to see them finally taking action that Senate Democrats have failed to do for months, this should have been done at the start of the investigation,” he seethed.
“The delay in issuing subpoenas seems to underscore the point I have made repeatedly: the Assembly investigation seems to be more focused on buying time for the Governor than truly holding him accountable and getting the answers that New Yorkers deserve.”
State Attorney General Letitia James is overseeing a separate, parallel investigation into the sexual harassment allegations into Cuomo as well as his multi-million dollar book deal.
Her office has already issued subpoenas to Cuomo staffers in the executive chamber, according to prior reporting.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern of New York is investigating the administration’s COVID-19 policies in nursing homes as well as the book deal.
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