The louder and more numerous the calls for Andrew Cuomo to resign the governorship of New York in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment, the more the Sun is inclined to urge him to hold out for impeachment. We have no particular investment in Mr. Cuomo’s tenure in Albany. We do have an investment in the idea of due process, which is fully sketched in the state Constitution to which Mr. Cuomo and most of his critics are sworn.
The latest calls for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation come from more than a dozen members of the Empire State’s congressional delegation in Washington. They include Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as, earlier in the day, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, an architect of the first failed attempt to use impeachment to oust President Trump, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Quoth Mr. Nadler: “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York.”
The Times reckons the calls are “a coordinated message” and the “sharpest rebuke yet of Mr. Cuomo from the upper echelons of the Democratic Party.” Meantime, a growing number of Democrats in Albany, including members of the State Senate, are themselves calling for Mr. Cuomo to quit, not only because of the allegations over inappropriate behavior but also over allegations of a coverup in the handling of the Covid crisis.
Such calls for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation strike us as an error of judgment, particularly those coming from, in the state Senate, the body that would, were Mr. Cuomo impeached, make up the bulk of the jury. Such calls smack of a willingness to hand down a verdict before charges have been handed up and before a single witness has been heard under oath or been cross-examined on any stand. And before Mr. Cuomo has mounted a defense.
We are not disputing the women who have come forward with allegations against Mr. Cuomo. On the contrary, they strike us as likely to make strong witnesses for an impeachment. Plus, too, Mr. Cuomo has long struck us as having a bullying streak. That, though, doesn’t support the idea that he should simply quit an elected office, particularly because he is denying the accusations. Hence the logic of a proper hearing.
Our watchword for both sides would be “Remember Al Franken.” The Minnesota Democrat had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior before he entered the Senate. In late 2017, Senators McConnell and Schumer referred the matter to the Ethics Committee, where Mr. Franken wanted to hold out for a hearing. We warned, in “Senator Franken’s Fate,” against a rush to judgment.
Yet a cabal of his own Democratic colleagues, led by Senator Gillibrand, hounded him into resigning. It was a disgrace. Then the story took a heartbreaking turn, as Mr. Franken came instantly to regret his decision to quit and went into a deep, even clinical depression. It was reported by Jane Mayer in a memorable scoop in the New Yorker. We wrote about that in an editorial called “Senator Franken Regrets.”
Ms. Mayer’s scoop was not only that Mr. Franken bitterly regretted his resignation but that many of his colleagues who buffaloed him into quitting had also come to regret — and were even ashamed of — their own actions. No less a figure than Senator Leahy called his decision to seek Mr. Franken’s resignation “one of the biggest mistakes” of his career. He was hardly the only one.
Senator Heitkamp, now out of office, confessed she called for Mr. Franken to quit “without concern for exactly what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, Angus King, Bill Nelson, Jeff Merkley, Thomas Udall, all seemed ashamed of failing to stand for due process. We suggested that for penance they quit, too. Every one of the Democrats — and Republicans — baying for Mr. Cuomo should read Ms. Mayer’s dispatch on Mr. Franken.
The allegations against Governor Cuomo seem to be more serious than those aired against the senator from Minnesota. Mr. Cuomo, though, denies the claims and insists he’ll hold out for impeachment. In the Assembly, an impeachment panel has been authorized to look into both the Covid issues and sexual harassment. Separately, the state attorney general is looking into the sexual harassment complaints. Nearly two thirds of state senators have called for Mr. Cuomo to quit.
Yet the two thirds needed to oust Mr. Cuomo would be of the court of impeachment. A peculiar feature of New York Constitution is that the court of impeachment includes not only the state senators but the judges of the Court of Appeals, or the major part of them. So while conviction might seem likely, it is no lead pipe cinch. If an impeachment court is allowed to weigh the facts, there will likely be, whatever the outcome, fewer regrets.
* This editorial was updated from the bulldog, including for news that Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have joined those who are calling for Mr. Cuomo to step down and for news that Mr. Cuomo’s handling of the Covid crisis is also within the purview of the impeachment committee in the Assembly.