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Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Photo by diana_robinson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Please explain again why New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must resign. Or, put another way, what gives his political opponents, many of them fellow Democrats, the right to undo an election on the basis of unverified assertions of sexual misconduct — some ridiculously trivial, none involving violence or threat to careers, several open to innocent interpretations.

The comments on news stories should warn the political swarm of growing public annoyance at this massive pile-on against a governor most New Yorkers still consider effective.

Cuomo made some missteps early in the pandemic, but when the dimensions of the crisis were known, he took a national lead in implementing painful measures to curb the spread. He calmed a scared public at a time when President Trump was clowning around. He won national respect and, for that, became a prime target of the right.

And so, are Democrats now to take him down on claims that he held a female staffer's hand too long? Or that he kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding party?

Destined to live in infamy is a demand by New York's two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, that Cuomo resign. "Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations," they state, "it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York."

First off, an allegation, the Cambridge Dictionary says, is "a statement, made without giving proof, that someone has done something wrong or illegal." If you find these claims "credible," why not wait for the independent investigation by the state attorney general?

And what are the allegations? The most serious one — that Cuomo groped a woman at the governor's mansion — comes from an "unidentified" aide. Since when did an unproven claim by an unknown accuser warrant the removal of a governor?

Some of the other charges would be laughable if anyone around here still had a sense of humor. The best one comes from accuser No. 4, who complains that Cuomo kissed her hand. Hand-kissing, in today's culture, is a vaguely comical gesture.

Cuomo understandably hit back at Schumer and Gillibrand. "The people of New York," he said, "should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance."

Once again, Democrats are devouring their own. Many see a repeat of the Al Franken debacle in which Gillibrand pushed the popular senator from Minnesota to resign over a stupid, jokey photo.

Recall the hysteria over a woman's complaint that Joe Biden nuzzled the back of her head? That set the woke herd on a stampede, and soon, media were taking seriously a woman's whacko charge that Biden had penetrated her with his fingers.

As The New York Times reported last September, "Last year, Ms. Reade and seven other women came forward to accuse Mr. Biden of kissing, hugging or touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable."

Reade, it was later learned, had a troubled personal history. If this had gone further, Democrats, you might have been into Donald Trump's second term.

Of course, Cuomo's political foes see opportunity in getting rid of a formidable foe without having to run against him. As of now, Cuomo is vying for a fourth term.

Reports that Cuomo hid the number of nursing home deaths from COVID-19 are more disturbing, but that's not what set off the cries for his head. It was, as Cuomo himself conceded, the "unwanted flirtation."

Whether Cuomo has lost the confidence of New Yorkers can be made clear on Election Day 2022. The voters should have a say in this, don't you think?

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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