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"The Tone Has Completely Changed," Says Ron Kim; Anticipates "Immediate Action" on Cuomo.
A brief interview with one of the Governor's biggest critics.
I just got off the phone with Assemblyman Ron Kim, who represents Flushing, Queens in the New York State Assembly.
For months, Kim has been one of the most vocal elected officials in New York in favor of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s immediate resignation - or barring that, his immediate impeachment and removal from office, following allegations of sexual harassment from multiple women in the governor’s employ earlier this year. Kim has also been demanding accountability over Cuomo’s attempts to cover up the thousands of excess COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes that the governor’s own actions likely contributed to, inviting retaliation from Cuomo’s office.
This morning, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report confirming those allegations and more. Her investigation paints a disturbing portrait of relentless workplace abuse and serial harassment on the part of the governor, and a culture of impunity enabled by top aides who knew of his behavior and worked to cover for him.
I asked Kim where things stand in the State Assembly with regard to any possible impeachment action. The conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Did the Assembly know that this report was coming today?
“I think like many of our friends in the media, we’ve been hearing the same things through the grapevine, which was that this was going to drop around late July.”
Assembly Democrats held an emergency caucus meeting earlier this afternoon. What was the mood in that meeting?
“I can say that there is overwhelming support for immediate action. It’s an entirely different tone than before, even from members who didn’t want to call for resignation or impeachment previously. Now even they are actively expressing their discontent.”
When you say “immediate action,” how immediate are you thinking?
“I think there’s a sense that this can’t drag on for months. With the rate at which we’re seeing the Judiciary Committee conduct itself, most if not all members have expressed discontent with sitting on this for months. So if people want to talk with the AG’s office, follow up with them, fine - but I don’t think it should take more than a week.”
Is that what leadership has said it wants to do? Has the AG’s office made itself available for consultation with the Assembly?
“Now that the report is out, the AG’s investigators are willing to work with our own investigators, collaborating with the Assembly. I think that will happen this week.”
If the Assembly does decide to take action, will it focus on any of the other issues plaguing the governor besides the harassment reports?
“There’s an impeachment committee meeting scheduled for early next week, it was scheduled before the AG’s report was released. This is a public meeting where the committee will update the public on the progress of all its other investigations, including things like nursing homes and the book deal.”
Do you have any idea where those investigations are at?
“I get the sense that they’ve come a long way. And if they’re close to finishing the other investigations, why not combine everything? I think we’ll have more answers early next week.”
You mentioned earlier that even members who’d been reticent about resignation or impeachment previously were changing their tone. Are there any vocal pockets of Cuomo support left?
“The Cuomo loyalists - the best they can do right now is buy time and argue to let the process take its course.”