Andrew Cuomo’s Due Process
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
What would Andrew Cuomo’s father have counseled? Michael Goodwin of the New York Post notes that Mario Cuomo “brooked no nonsense,” even from his son. It would be vainglorious of us to suggest that we knew Mario Cuomo well. Each of the several meals we had with Cuomo père, though, ended up focusing on constitutional principles. We could see Mario arguing that his son is owed some kind of due process.
We don’t want to be mistaken here in respect of Andrew Cuomo. We’re no fan. We were for the Republican every time Andrew Cuomo went to the hustings. Even apart from the current scandal, Andrew Cuomo’s conduct of his office has been horrifying at times, such as his tirade suggesting “extreme conservatives” who are “right-to-life” and “pro-assault-weapon” have “no place in the state of New York.”
Nor do we lack for an appreciation of the scale of the problem of sexual harassment. Nor lack regard for Attorney General James and the work that went into her devastating report. Much as we disagree with her on policy, she’s emerging as a formidable figure. Yet the idea that guilt can be determined by a prosecutor’s investigation alone strikes us at odds with American — and Empire State — principles.
After all, a criminal investigation of the governor’s behavior is under way at Albany County. It was, though, as the Times notes, “not immediately clear” just when the county d.a. launched his investigation or “which behavior he was looking into.” The Times quotes a spokeswoman for the d.a. as saying merely that it’s looking into “any allegations that rise to the level of criminal conduct.” Hmmmm.
Yet the high-octane Democrats are falling all over themselves to pronounce the governor guilty and demand that he resign — President Biden, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, even the Assembly speaker, who, presumably, would lead any impeachment. Yet there’s a strange reluctance among the Democrats actually to launch an impeachment — that is, to afford their fellow Democrat what passes for due process.
This is being pointed out this morning by another sage of the New York Post, Bob McManus. (He and Mr. Goodwin are members of our favorite species — grizzled newspaper editors.) Mr. McManus wonders whether Speaker Heastie will “actually pull the trigger on impeachment” when the state is about to receive billions in federal infrastructure aid, “much of it subject to distribution at the governor’s discretion.”
Mr. Cuomo’s predicament reminds us of the hapless Al Franken, the senator of Minnesota who — in the face of claims of sexual harassment — allowed himself to be hounded by his fellow Democrats right out of the Senate. No one wanted to wait for an Ethics Committee investigation. Senator Franken buckled and quit, only to develop paroxysms of regret, brilliantly reported by Jane Mayer of the New Yorker.
Only later did the Democrats who hounded him to quit develop their own regrets. Senator Leahy, we noted in an editorial on Ms. Mayer’s reporting, called his part in Mr. Franken’s resignation one of his own “biggest mistakes.” Senator Heitkamp confessed she’d acted “without concern for exactly what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, Angus King, Bill Nelson, Jeff Merkley, Thos. Udall, all seemed ashamed of failing to stand for due process.
One of those leading the senatorial mob against Mr. Franken was Senator Gillibrand. She’s playing a similar role in the case of Mr. Cuomo. It may be that Mr. Cuomo’s misdeeds are more serious than Mr. Franken’s. There are more accusers, and the alleged harassment seems, at least to us, worse. All the more reason to go by the book and give the governor a proper impeachment.