Aide’s incendiary tweet has Gov. Cuomo facing ‘severe repercussions’ in impeachment probe

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly facing “severe repercussions” over the lousy behavior and trash-talking of his underlings. Like governor, like underlings.

On Wednesday, New York Assembly Judiciary Committee chair Charles Lavine, a Democrat who’s leading an impeachment inquiry into the governor, sent a letter to him warning of “severe repercussions” over a tweet posted by his spokesperson.

On July 11th, spokesperson Rich Azzopardi posted a tweet slamming John Samuelsen, the head of the state’s largest transit union, for being critical of his boss.

Speaking with the New York Post, Samuelsen had said he’s “over” Cuomo because of his alleged criminal behavior.

“How could the labor movement support someone for governor who engaged in workforce criminality, sexual harassment?” he’d asked rhetorically.

This apparently enraged either Cuomo or Azzopardi, the latter of whom responded with the following tweet (that may have very well been written at the direction of the governor):

In the tweet, he accused Samuelson of being an “extortionist” and, worse, decided to tie New York Attorney General Letitia James to him.

“We also understand he is a political supporter of Tish James and she says she may run against the governor, and he wants more benefits in his contract,” he wrote.

(Just for the record, James hasn’t said anything publicly about running for governor.)

This was a big issue for Lavine, the state Democrat who warned Cuomo of “severe repercussions,” because James happens to be the one directing the investigations into the governor’s alleged criminal behavior.

Plus, he’d already warned the governor months ago to avoid engaging in any bad behavior, as he explained in his letter Wednesday.

“I served formal written notice on you on March 15, 2021, expressly advising: ‘In so sensitive a matter, it is both obvious and imperative that neither you nor anyone associated with you engage in intimidation, retaliation, or any attempt at intimidation or retaliation against any complainant or potential witness,'” the letter reads.

“It is therefore difficult for me to comprehend your communications director tweeting that Attorney General James, whose office is conducting a parallel investigation, ‘says she may run against the governor.’ It is obvious that attempts to demean the Attorney General serve as well to undermine the investigation and send profoundly negative signals to witnesses,” the letter continues.

The letter concludes with a stern warning.

“It is critically important to realize that any such comment may merit severe repercussions. You will recall language in my non retaliation/intimidation notice of March 15: ‘Any such actions on your behalf sends a chilling signal to any potential witnesses and such conduct may be considered by the Committee as an attempt to suppress other complainants and witnesses from coming forward,'” it reads.

As usual, Cuomo has denied all wrongdoing.

“There is a clear difference between actionable retaliation and protected speech and it is clear that the Chairman doesn’t understand the difference,” acting counsel Beth Garvey said in a statement, according to Spectrum News.

This isn’t even the first example of Azzopardi talking about James. Just last week, he claimed “again without evidence, that James’ office had leaked that Cuomo would be interviewed by investigators Saturday,” according to the Times Union.

“The alleged leak, Azzopardi claimed, was an attempt to distract from news that James had raised less in campaign donations than Cuomo’s usual total when he was AG,” the paper reported Tuesday.

It’s not clear why this wasn’t mentioned in Lavine’s letter.

Regardless, when questioned by the Times Union about these allegations against the attorney general who’s investigating his boss, Azzopardi reportedly “responded with an expletive-laced rant.”

Again, like governor, like underlings …

These debacles aren’t apt to help Cuomo in his attempt to desperately cling to power.

“Assembly Democrats earlier this year launched their own investigation of multiple controversies facing Cuomo, including the method in which his administration counted nursing home fatalities during the pandemic as well as the construction of the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge,” according to Spectrum News.

Meanwhile, James has been examining the numerous sexual harassment claims against Cuomo and, unlike the governor, she’s maintained her professionalism.

“Attorney General Letitia James insisted her office’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be tainted by politics, and at the same time said it would be ‘thorough and comprehensive,'” Spectrum News reported in May.

“Our investigation will conclude when it concludes. It’s very thorough and comprehensive,” she said at the time.

Vivek Saxena

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