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New York’s attorney general keeps Albany — and Cuomo — waiting

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11.07.2021

ALBANY, N.Y. — Few governors in recent New York history have dominated the news cycle — and the levers of government — like Andrew Cuomo, the state’s three-term governor. But in the summer of 2021, with an embattled Cuomo eyeing reelection next year, the future of state politics rests with another statewide official: Attorney General Tish James.

James, who has been investigating a portfolio of allegations against the governor since March, has retained private attorneys who have interviewed several women who accused Cuomo of harassment, as well as top staff said to be aware of his alleged misconduct.

But little more is known about the probe, and James has made clear there is no clock in her office counting down the months, weeks or days remaining in her inquiry. “It will conclude when it concludes,” she told reporters at an unrelated event in Albany late last month, one of the few public remarks she has made about the probe.

The uncertainty has paralyzed much of New York's Democratic political apparatus. State lawmakers have put their parallel impeachment investigation on a very slow burn. Cuomo has not revisited his pre-scandal pledge to run for a fourth term in 2022. And potential Democratic primary challengers are waiting to see if they’d face a wounded Cuomo, a vindicated Cuomo, or perhaps no Cuomo at all.



Another investigation lurks in the background, and could be equally significant: The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn have been looking into Cuomo’s coronavirus task force and how it handled nursing homes early on in the pandemic.

And so Albany waits, with political strategists, would-be campaign staffers and prospective opponents enduring cortisol spikes each time the attorney general’s office announces a press availability, wondering if it might herald the release of her conclusions. Thus far, though, they have had to fall back on rumination and rumor, playing out various hypotheticals and how those scenarios may, or may not, damage Cuomo’s political fortunes.

"I think we all wait with bated breath: Does she have the intestinal fortitude to indict the governor?" said state Republican chair Nick Langworthy, whose views of Cuomo’s conduct leave little room for ambiguity.

There are no signs that James has empaneled a grand jury or that any of her findings would necessarily rise to the level of prosecution. Most of the speculation in Albany is centered on the consequences of a damning report filled........

© Politico


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