Latrice Walker, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said she also opposed impeachment, saying that for someone who had been hailed as “America’s governor” at the height of the pandemic, resignation was punishment enough.
Others, such as Catalina Cruz, a Democrat from Queens and a member of the committee, said they were still grappling with the issue. “I think there are very valid reasons to continue and very valid reasons not to. I’m taking the weekend to think through it,” Ms. Cruz said.
Even if there is enough political will to impeach, there is no precedent in New York for impeaching a governor after he leaves office. Lawmakers would have to navigate a process riddled with open-ended and complicated constitutional questions.
“Until two days ago, there was no debate because I don’t think this had ever come up,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia University and an expert on state constitutional law. “There is no doubt that they can impeach while he is in office. If he ceases to be in office, can he be impeached? I just don’t know. The Constitution doesn’t address it.”
Legislators could rush to impeach Mr. Cuomo before he steps down in 12 days, but a Senate trial would still happen after he leaves. And even then, it is unclear if Mr. Cuomo could legally be barred from running for office again, some scholars said, since that stipulation appears to be tied to his being impeached while in office.
“Lawmakers could make the argument that since they began the proceedings, then they’re entitled to in fact complete the impeachment process,” said Leonard M. Cutler, a professor of political science at Siena College. “Undoubtedly, it would wind up in the courts.”
Though impeaching a governor is incredibly rare — about a dozen governors in U.S. history have ever been impeached — impeaching a former governor is almost unheard of. James E. Ferguson of Texas was impeached and tried in 1917 while he was governor, but resigned right before he was convicted. He was nonetheless barred from holding office again.