Legal representative for Cuomo accuser condemns ‘dispute of interest’ of company hired

Prosecutor Greg Andres. Souce: CSPAN

The New York state Assembly stated Wednesday that it has worked with lawyers from a popular Manhattan firm– among whom functioned as a prosecutor on then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s team– for the impeachment examination of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But the hiring of Davis Polk & Wardwell was rapidly blasted as “an unacceptable dispute of interest” by a lawyer for previous Cuomo assistant Charlotte Bennett, one of several females who have actually accused the Democratic guv of sexually bugging them. The lawyer, Debra Katz, stated she “was alarmed to discover” of the firm’s retention and warned that it may affect the desire of Bennett and other Cuomo accusers to cooperate with the Assembly’s investigation. Katz’s objection is based upon two facts. State Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who would be a juror in a Senate trial of Cuomo if he is impeached, is wed to former longtime David Polk partner Dennis Glazer. And, Cuomo designated Glazer to the board of the State University of New York, Purchase. Last month, Cuomo stopped working in his effort to get state Chief law officer Letitia James to agree to perform the examination of him in conjunction with DiFiore. That effort was seen as a quote by Cuomo to have some procedure of political sway over the probe. “The impeachment examination need to operate free of political influence and must be transparent, detailing for the general public the actions being taken to protect the integrity of their impeachment examination,” Katz said in a statement.

Attorney, Debra S Katz, is seen as Christine Blasey Ford, testifies before the SENATE Judiciary Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Complex on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Saul Loeb|Getty Images

“We already know the degree to which Guv Cuomo has actually surrounded himself with individuals in the Executive Chamber who allowed his habits and swept evidence of sexual harassment under the rug. If there is even a hint of political influence in the impeachment investigation, it will taint the whole procedures.” Katz alerted that while Bennett “is committed to cooperating with all proper governmental inquiries, including the impeachment investigation, the involvement of Davis Polk offers her time out.” “I think it will have the same effect on other women who were sexually pestered by the guv,” the attorney said. Cuomo, who denies wrongdoing, is being examined by the Assembly Judiciary Committee over accusations of sexual harassment of aides and other females and a cover-up by his administration of Covid death information associated with nursing house patients. The retention of Davis Polk & Wardwell was announced Wednesday by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine. Both Assembly leaders are Democrats. The attorneys on the probe include Davis Polk partner Greg Andres, a previous federal district attorney who worked on Mueller’s vast investigation of people linked to previous President Donald Trump’s 2016 project and of Russian disturbance in that year’s election.

The impeachment probe is different from an ongoing investigation of Cuomo that is being conducted by a group of other lawyers in personal practice, who are being supervised by James, the attorney general. That team today questioned Bennett for four hours over teleconference. In another probe, police in Albany, New York, have actually been alerted about a claim that Cuomo aggressively groped a present staffer in the governor’s mansion after summoning her there on the pretext of helping him with his cellular phone. Andres was a district attorney at the 2018 trial in Virginia of former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort that ended with a conviction on monetary criminal activity charges related to the Republican consultant’s operate in Ukraine. A month prior to leaving office in January, Trump pardoned Manafort, who likewise had actually independently pleaded guilty in another federal case. Andres was the topic of news posts during Manafort’s trial when the federal judge in the case, T.S. Ellis, whom the district attorney had complained was avoiding him from asking crucial concerns of a witness, recommended Andres was sobbing in court. Andres denied he was crying, and a variety of legal observers stated Ellis’ behavior toward the district attorney was out of line. In addition to his deal with the Mueller probe, Andres was previously a federal district attorney in Brooklyn, New York City, and in Washington, where from 2010 to 2012 he served as a deputy assistant chief law officer in the Justice Department’s criminal department. Other lawyers from Davis Polk worked with for the Cuomo probe include Angela Citizen, who is co-chair of the firm’s white-collar defense and examinations group, and Martine Beamon, a partner in the litigation department who formerly worked as a prosecutor in the workplace of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Just one New York guv has ever been impeached: William “Plain Costs” Sulzer, who was removed from office in 1913 after claims of fraud in campaign contributions. If the Assembly, whose 150 members include 106 Democrats and 43 Republicans, impeaches Cuomo then Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would take control of as acting governor until the state Senate concluded a trial of Cuomo. Jurors on that trial would consist of not just senators, however likewise the 7 members of the state’s greatest court, the Court of Appeals. There are 43 Democrats in the Senate and 20 Republicans. The bulk leader, Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, has actually required that Cuomo resign. If Cuomo is acquitted by the Senate, he would resume acting as guv. To convict him would require a vote by two-thirds of the jurors. Heastie’s permission of the impeachment probe by the Judiciary Committee last week came after a meeting of the Democratic caucus. At that meeting, some members supposedly believed that Heastie’s transfer to authorize a probe, instead of beginning impeachment proceedings immediately, was developed to provide Cuomo more time to conserve himself politically. Other members apparently believed the move appertained to permit the attorney general’s office to finish its probe. Heastie, in a declaration Wednesday, said that the Judiciary chairman, Lavine, because last week “led a vigorous search for a top-flight company to assist with the examination.” “Hiring Davis Polk will offer the Committee the experience, independence and resources needed to handle this essential investigation in an extensive and expeditious way,” Heastie said. Lavine said, “The addition of Davis Polk will allow my coworkers on the Judiciary Committee and me to fully and fairly examine the claims.” “These are severe accusations, and they will be treated with fairness, due process and discretion,” Lavine said.

Guv Andrew Cuomo touches his nose throughout a visit to a brand-new Covid-19 vaccination website, Monday, March 15, 2021, at the State University of New York City in Old Westbury. Mark Lennihan|AFP|Getty Images

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