Cuomo Won’t Go Easily

4 Aug 2021

CLAY: The continued fallout of Andrew Cuomo. Eleven women found to have legitimately accused him of sexual harassment, nine of them working inside — either past or present — of his office in the governor’s office of New York. And yesterday afternoon Joe Biden came warbling out, and he said Governor Cuomo should resign. Here is what that sounded like during Biden’s press conference and also an address that he had yesterday.

REPORTER: So will you now call on him to resign, given the investigator said the 11 women were credible?

BIDEN: I stand by that (sputters) statement.

REPORTER: Are you now calling on him to resign?


REPORTER: And if he doesn’t resign, do you believe he should be impeached and removed from office?

BIDEN: Let’s take one thing at a time here. I think he should resign.

REPORTER: Yeah, but —

BIDEN: I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don’t know that for a fact. I’ve not read all that data.

REPORTER: And he’s using a photo of you embracing him in his self-defense to say that these are commonplace kinds of embraces that he made in the allegations against him. Do you condone that?

BIDEN: Look, I — I’m not gonna flyspeck this. (sputters) I’m sure there are some embraces that were totally innocent. But app– Apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.

BUCK: I wish that someone had asked where kissing a stranger on the top of the head and like massaging her temples falls into this, ’cause Joe Biden does that.

CLAY: That’s why it was so funny when he mentioned that, and also Joe Biden has a serious sexual harassment claim against him.

BUCK: Sexual assault claim against him!

CLAY: Yeah, that everybody just pretended didn’t exist from I think it was Tara Reade, if I’m remembering her name correctly. So, Buck, you’re pretty plugged in in New York circles. Do you believe that Andrew Cuomo is going to resign? Do you think there’s the any way he’ll be forced out, impeached? If you were setting odds, is he still governor at the end of the year?

BUCK: I think there’s very little chance, as I said yesterday, that he will resign. Almost no chance.

CLAY: Yeah.

BUCK: I think the Democrat legislature is unlikely — I’d give it a less than 50-50 shot — to take action against him, and so that’s why. And I know people will say, “Oh, what about this Democrat who says this is going too far?” You gotta think about a few things here, all right? Cuomo… First of all, baseline, Democrat politicians have no principles that they have to defend. It’s about power. It doesn’t matter.

And you see this with Biden and the eviction moratorium in the CDC where, “We’re gonna do it because we can do it,” becomes the operative principle. That’s all that they care about — and they want to do it. That’s what matters. But you look at the power dynamics in New York state, let’s take a peek at them for a second here. Governor Cuomo comes from a very connected and powerful family.

He has a whole lot of not just favors to call in, but also pressure to put on people in the New York state political system. This is probably it more than anything else: What is the incentive for a guy like him who is clearly a somewhat deluded sociopath, what is the incentive for him to step down? What does he get other than an ignominious end? It’s the downfall of the dynasty.

At least in his mind, if they have to force him out, he can always say, “I was wrongly accused, it was exaggerated, it was a political hit.” It’s like if you take a plea bargain, you’re guilty. You go to jail and you fought it all the way through court, you at least get to say, “I’m an innocent man,” which we know a lot of people in prison continue to say (chuckles) no matter what the evidence is against them.

I think there would be a case like that. So Clay we can do it just on that level. Resignation? I would be shocked. Now, I don’t believe anyone can predict the future, but I think the chances of Cuomo resigning? If I were giving you betting odds, I would give someone 10 to one on that one, 10 to one he doesn’t.

CLAY: Ten to one would still give you roughly a 10% chance that he would.

BUCK: I’m talking about money.

CLAY: Yeah, yeah.

BUCK: If I put money on the line.

CLAY: But the way I’m working through it is, I’m like, I buy into your argument that there’s way he’s gonna resign because resignation is an admission of guilt. And if he were going to admit that he was in some way guilty he would have been able to do that before the investigation took place; he could walk away.

I’m with you. I don’t think there’s any way that he is going to actually leave. Now, the question becomes, is there the political capital to force him to leave. There is at least one state senator, James Skoufis, who is saying, “This is done. He’s going to have to move on. There’s no way he survives this.” Let’s listen to this, and then we’ll react as well.

SKOUFIS: So look, the — the next step is waiting to see, uh, in the very near term whether the governor does the right thing here. Everyone up to the — the for it the president of the United States of his own party has called on him to step down. And short of that, if he doesn’t do that immediately — and by immediately, I don’t mean months or even weeks; I mean today, tomorrow — then the legislature ought to take the necessary steps to remove him from the governor’s mansion. It’s over. You know, there’s no gray area. There’s no “maybe.” There’s no scenario in which the governor survives this. It is over. The writing is on the wall, and it would be best for this state if the governor, uh, did this willingly.

CLAY: So the question, I think, that comes out of this is, is it possible the New York legislature says, “Andrew Cuomo, we have the votes to impeach you and remove you from office?” And, frankly, I’m not an expert in New York state impeachment protocols. But if that is to occur, is there any way Andrew Cuomo resigns then, Richard Nixon style? Or is this a situation where he just refuses no matter what and calls their bluff and says, “I want you guys going on the record with who demands that I be impeached and who doesn’t.” How do you see that playing out?

BUCK: Oh, I think this is gonna be Saddam in the spider hole with the crazy bed hair situation. I think this is gonna be he’s gonna fight it to the very end. This is who he is. He is the governor of New York, in his mind. He was raised for this. In his mind, this is his entire destiny.

CLAY: His destiny.

BUCK: Exactly, and this is his fiefdom. Remember, Pelosi and Schumer and Biden, that would be like NHL players saying that some NBA player has to resign.

CLAY: Yeah.

BUCK: It’s a different thing. It’s not the same system. And Cuomo’s powerful enough in the position he’s in and as I said has enough favors, has enough clout that the federal pressure alone is not going to do anything against him. So now you get to… Here’s the question as I see it. You’ve got people in the state legislature who are coming out and saying, “It’s over. It’s done.”

CLAY: Yes.

BUCK: And this get this moment of, “Ahhhh, see?” You can actually read it on social media. People say, “We’re Democrats. We have principles. See? We’re gonna do the right thing,” and they get that little serotonin hit of self-righteousness.

CLAY: Yes.

BUCK: They’re gonna feel like for a few days, “Oh, we’re gonna clean up our house,” but how quickly are they gonna schedule the process for removing a governor? How many governors have even been removed in the history of New York state? How well-oiled is that machine even if they wanted to do it?

And if Cuomo can get delays, he stays, and so that’s part of this was where I have to say there’s a question mark. If you see them saying, “We’re gonna hold hearings in September. We’re gonna have meetings about this in November,” then it’s guaranteed he’s good to go because there’s no way the public opprobrium is gonna die down in all this.

CLAY: It’s a little bit like being in intensive care if you want to make an analogy. The longer you can last — and this, to me, is one of the geniuses of Trump, is he recognized that our media is not designed to handle complex stories that take multiple days without new twists and turns. And that if he came out with a new tweet, that the media — like a dog chasing its tail, would keep running around in circles, never able to actually catch up to him. And that is why I wonder if Cuomo is gambling that what is a massive story yesterday when it came out, still a big story today will not, Buck Sexton, be a story on next week, right, or the week after, certainly the month after.

BUCK: To give everybody a sense of this, in California they’ve already recalled their governor, and they may do it again here.

CLAY: In September.

BUCK: But they have a precedent. Yeah, Gavin Newsom’s sweating a little bit, if you’ve ever seen Gavin Newsom sweat. Here is, though, in New York state, they’ve had 56 governors. Only one has ever been impeached from office.

CLAY: How long ago was that?

BUCK: Over a century ago. And if you want to know what really moves the needle here for impeachment in New York, it wasn’t, “Oh, he was doing something corrupt.” It wasn’t that he was taking bribes. It’s usually bribery, corruption. You look at judges that are removed from the bench, which has actually happened, federal judges —

CLAY: Yes. It’s pretty egregious.

BUCK: It’s usually they were bribed, or like public drunkenness on the bench — which sounds like it might have been kind of entertaining. But on this point, it was that he defied the wishes of the political machine of Tammany Hall here in New York City. William Sulzer was elected governor in 1912, and he was impeached on orders from Tammany Hall boss Charles Murray, and that was because he wouldn’t do what Tammany Hall wanted. So it was basically, “We own you, Governor. You do what we say.”

CLAY: Yes. You’re our stooge. You’re out puppet.

BUCK: That’s the only person, Clay, in history to ever be impeached as governor from New York.

CLAY: So the precedent which I do think is significant, it’s a good one historically that you put in place is, the machinery is not well-oiled in order to allow this process to take place; it’s not as if we have had any recent experience at all. No one living today, basically. Maybe a couple people who were alive in 1912, but almost no one living today even still exists that was alive during the process of that. So this is, again, I think that Cuomo’s big gamble is that the American media is too dumb and too focused on day-to-day scandal to focus on him.

BUCK: Are they still on his team, though?

CLAY: I don’t know.

BUCK: Are they still ultimately on his team? ‘Cause I would argue that they’re making a big show of it, that they’re so upset about this. But will they be upset if he’s still governor in six months as long as he delivers on a woman’s right to choose and is anti-gun and all these other things? I think they’re with him despite the histrionics.

CLAY: I think that this is an interesting study that can be applied going forward. To me, it’s one of the big legacies of Trump — and we’ve seen it happen with the Virginia governor, we’ve seen it happen both parties — is if you just hold on long enough, people forget about whatever you did that’s wrong.

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