ALBANY – Gov. Cuomo on Tuesday urged the Democrats not to play politics with impeachments.
“It depends on the specific information and the specific issue,” Cuomo said when asked during an appearance on WAMC upstate radio about the possibility of impeaching President Trump. “Impeachment to play politics, God no. and terrible for the Democrats.”
Cuomo said it will be the facts that will determine how the House should proceed. But he urged those in his own Democratic party to remember the public has real concerns over issues like climate change and General Motors leaving and wants to see government function.
“If it’s impeachment because the Democrats want to harass the President, terrible,” he said. “If it’s a report that speaks to real criminality and it is beyond the political litmus test, that’s a different situation.”
He cited the impeachment of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and how the public didn’t believe what took place was grounds for impeachment. Cuomo served as Clinton’s federal housing secretary.
That said, Cuomo said the guilty plea Thursday by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who admitted to lying to Congress about Trump’s involvement with the Russians could spell serious trouble for the President.
“I think Cohen has the possibility to be a damning witness against the President because he was his right hand fixer, his right hand problem solver,” Cuomo said. “From everything you read, it sounds like he got the dirty deeds to do and I think it’s going to be a problem.”
But the Democratic governor said the public won’t fully know whether Trump broke the law until special prosecutor Robert Mueller releases his report.
“None of the speculation matters,” he said. “What do you actually have?…How damning is it? We don’t have that at this point. We know we have a lot of ugliness, but ugliness does not necessarily equate to a criminal conviction.”
Noting he is a former state attorney general, Cuomo said he is not surprised Cohen pleaded guilty because “news flash, people don’t like to go to jail.”
“I suspected all along Cohen, who was intimately involved with the President, would wind up saying everything he knew,” he said. “The earlier perjury was just another really stupid mistake on his part.”
After brutally attacking Trump for months during his own re-election campaign, Cuomo defended the niceties he exchanged publicly with the President after their White House meeting Wednesday over infrastructure projects like the Gateway project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River that the governor wants the feds to help fund.
“My position is I am a chief executive,” Cuomo said. “It is much different than being a legislator. When you are a chief executive, you have to make sure you can separate your politics from your government work and your professionalism. I have to get things done.”
He added that with Trump, “I have profound political differences and I used some of the strongest language I’ve used in my career vis a vis the President. And he’s been harsh in his comments about me. But we have a very practical situation. We have a tunnel that could collapse.”