New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation in response to an investigation into a series of sexual harassment accusations made against him.
WIVB News 4 anchors Jacquie Walker and Don Postles interviewed attorney Barry N. Covert to provide legal analysis of the governor’s resignation announcement.
In the WIVB interview, Barry Covert discusses:
- the timing of Governor Cuomo’s resignation;
- the impact the resignation may have on Governor Cuomo’s accusers;
- the criminal cases Governor Cuomo is still facing;
- the financial implications the charges and investigations have on taxpayers; and
- the potential for future investigations.
Continuing reading for portions of Barry Covert’s comments and click the video below to watch the full interview from WIVB.
What was your reaction when you heard the announcement of the governor’s resignation today?
BNC: This was certainly a lot faster than I thought he would resign. It really peaks my interest as to why he picked today and now to resign as opposed to waiting to see how things played out. The thought was that he was going to try to wait a little while. See if the publicity goes down. See if he could ride this out. I would not be surprised at all to find out that he got some really bad information as to other accusers or perhaps he was told that there are going to be criminal charges filed. But this was a very quick turnaround on his resignation.
If you were representing one of the governor’s accusers, what would you be doing now?
BNC: If you’re one of the governor’s accusers, you’re very happy with what has occurred here. If you’re the lawyers for the governor, you are very fearful that there are going to be criminal charges on top of the civil lawsuits. Because the momentum that has built up against the governor has just been devastating. It’s been a tsunami. When we just look back a few months, we go from one alleged victims to eleven alleged victims. We have a massive attorney general report that the governor himself asked for and now he has to respond to. We have a criminal complaint brought by one of the eleven women who clearly alleged misdemeanor charges and she has now filed that a few days ago with the sheriff’s office in Albany County. And that’s followed up with a national TV interviewer, or a number of interviews, where she comes across as extremely credible. She’s never been cross examined, that’s a whole different question. You have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial and he gets the presumption of innocence. But right now the momentum that has built up against the governor, which has now caused him for some unknown reason to pick today to resign, is just overwhelming. And his lawyers must be very concerned as to what this may lead to.
Does the fact that the governor has announced his resignation today change any of the criminal cases now?
BNC: I think that the sheriff’s department and the district attorney should not be basing their charges, and whether they bring charges, upon his resignation. But the whole idea of momentum and believing that these women now have a lot of credibility. You have eleven women that all give very similar versions of events. Many don’t know each other. It’s over a period of time. The momentum that has now been capped by his resignation. Yeah, I do think that at the end of the day, in the back of the heads of the sheriff and/or the district attorney’s office, is that every indication has been that these charges seem to be corroborated by eleven different women and by a criminal charge that was filed by one of the victims. And now by very successful national interviews. So I it will have a role in this even though it probably should not.
If the governor should lose a civil case; do taxpayers pay for that?
BNC: Taxpayers may very well pay for that. We have been paying for his lawyers. We’ve been paying for his lawyers in response to the investigation of sexual misconduct, in relation to the nursing home investigation, in relation to the attorney general’s report. And because he was in office and many of these instances occurred while he was in the governor’s mansion or while he was in his offices, the taxpayers could very well be held responsible.
What do you think will happen regarding the COVID-related nursing home investigation?
BNC: I think that will proceed with all due diligence and speed. I think again, the momentum in relation to all of these investigations, is just going to be overwhelming for him now. It’s going to be very difficult for his lawyers to really contain the damage done in these matters.