SPONSORED:

Manhattan law firm named as lead in Cuomo impeachment investigation

Manhattan law firm named as lead in Cuomo impeachment investigation
© Getty Images

Leaders of the New York State Assembly on Wednesday announced that a Manhattan law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, will lead the impeachment investigation into the allegations against New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoSectoral bargaining is bad for workers and the American economy New York Philharmonic gives first public performance in more than a year Ron Kim on nursing home immunity repeal: It was critical 'to hold these facilities accountable' MORE (D), including claims of sexual harassment and alleged wrongdoings relating to his administration’s handling of coronavirus deaths and nursing home patients.

“Hiring Davis Polk will give the Committee the experience, independence and resources needed to handle this important investigation in a thorough and expeditious manner,” state Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said in a statement.

Judiciary Committee Chair Charles D. Lavine echoed this sentiment.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The addition of Davis Polk will allow my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and me to fully and fairly investigate the allegations," the Democrat said in a statement. "These are serious allegations, and they will be treated with fairness, due process and discretion.”

The Hill has reached out to Cuomo for comment.

Following the announcement, Debra Katz, attorney for Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, slammed the selection, saying it presents a possible conflict of interest. 

“We were alarmed to learn that Speaker Heastie has hired Davis Polk to assist with the investigation, given the connection between Dennis Glazer, who spent more than 30 years as a partner at Davis Polk, and the Governor,” Katz said in a statement that pointed to connections laid out by NY1 reporter Zack Fink.

Glazer was appointed chair of the Purchase College council by Cuomo in August 2019, according to the school's website.

Glazer is also apparently married to Janet DiFiore, the chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals and a Cuomo appointee. If Cuomo is impeached in the Assembly and put in trial in the Senate, DiFiore will serve as a juror.

ADVERTISEMENT

Katz said that while her client is committed to cooperating with the investigations, “the involvement of Davis Polk gives her pause.”

“I suspect it will have the same effect on other women who were sexually harassed by the governor,” she added.

Heastie authorized the Assembly's Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation into Cuomo last Thursday amid mounting calls for the third-term governor’s resignation.

Hours before the investigation was launched, more than 55 New York state legislators signed onto a letter calling on Cuomo to resign.

To be impeached, a majority vote is needed in the New York State Assembly, which is currently made up of 150 lawmakers, 106 of whom are Democrats. According to the state Constitution, if the Assembly impeaches Cuomo, the case goes to the New York State Senate, where a two-thirds majority is needed to remove the governor from office.

Since the inquiry began, more prominent lawmakers have urged the governor to resign. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandIntelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Jon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left MORE (D-N.Y.) issued a joint statement calling for Cuomo’s resignation. On Tuesday, in an interview with ABC News, President Biden said Cuomo should resign and possibly face criminal prosecution if the allegations of sexual harassment are proven.

Cuomo is also the subject of an investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D), which is looking into the allegations of sexual harassment made against the governor.

Cuomo has asked that people wait for the results of the investigation before making any judgments.

On Monday, the attorney general’s office met with one of Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennett, for more than four hours. According to a statement from her attorney, Bennett detailed her allegations and provided more than 120 pages of contemporaneous records, while offering other pieces of evidence to corroborate her claims against the governor and his senior staff.

It is unclear if any of the other accusers have met with investigators.

Cuomo has apologized for his actions, acknowledging that some of his interactions “may have been insensitive or too personal,” but denying that he ever inappropriately touched anyone.

He has also made clear that he has no intention of resigning, saying on Friday that he would not leave office and bow to “cancel culture.”

The joint statement from Heastie and Lavine on Wednesday said the Davis Polk team will include Angela Burgess, Greg Andres and Martine Beamon. The lawmakers added that the law firm is “authorized to vigorously pursue all the evidence to determine the extent to which violations of the law have occurred.”

—Updated at 5:28 p.m.