WXXI AM News

Cuomo clarifies remarks on impeachment

Oct 1, 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday clarified his views on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump's behavior after seemingly contradictory comments he's reported to have made last week.

Cuomo was on a weekly interview on Albany public radio station WAMC on Sept. 25, one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry. The governor said he backed the investigation into whether the president should be impeached.

"You're darn right there should be an inquiry," Cuomo told host Alan Chartock.

The next night, Cuomo spoke in New Jersey at a new Institute for Public Policy begun by the former governor of that state, Chris Christie, a Republican. Cuomo, according to a published reportĀ in Politico, offered a more negative view of the impeachment inquiry.

He said it was begun because of pressure from "leftist" Democrats and predicted that it would cause gridlock in Washington -- and ultimately fail because the Senate, led by Republicans, won't vote to impeach the president.

The governor's office normally provides an audio or video feed of the governor's appearances to reporters, but this time, no audio or video was available.

Afterward, the governor's communications director secretary, Dani Lever, issued a statement saying the governor's position had been "misrepresented."

Cuomo, speaking again onĀ WAMC on Tuesday, said he did not walk back his comments at the Christie center. He said when he referred to pressure from leftist Democrats, he was talking about the time before the president's phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became known.

He said now, Pelosi "has a constitutional duty to act."

"Yes, I do think they should move forward," Cuomo said on WAMC.

But the governor said Democrats now need to "do a better job" and make a strong legal case for impeachment.

"What in the call was illegal?" Cuomo asked. "Is it extortion of the Ukrainian president? Is it bribery? Is it misuse of the power of the president?"

Cuomo, a former Cabinet secretary under former President Bill Clinton, calls it "outrageous" that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened in on the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky, but said nothing about the president's behavior on the call.

"Where is the case against Pompeo for the abuse of his power?" Cuomo asked.

Other top Democratic politicians in New York state, including Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, are strongly in support of the impeachment inquiry.

New York Republicans have condemned the inquiry. GOP State Chair Nick Langworthy, in a statement, called it "the radical left's endless obsession with trying to take out President Trump and derail his agenda." He predicted that ultimately, voters will reject it.