NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Attorney General Letitia James named a team of people Monday, headed by a former United States Attorney and an employment discrimination attorney, to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported, let the probe begin.READ MORE: R. Kelly Found Guilty Of All Counts In Sex Trafficking, Racketeering Trial
James chose Joon Kim, the man who replaced replaced Preet Bharara as U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and employment discrimination lawyer Anne Clark to head a team investigating allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo made by five women.
In a statement, James described the pair as “legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law. There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
WATCH: Team Appointed To Investigate Cuomo
The team will have subpoena power, will conduct formal depositions and will be required to report weekly to the office of the attorney general.
All this came as the governor tried to make it seem like he was conducting business as usual by touring the Javits Center mass vaccination site.
It sounded a whole lot like a campaign appearance, Kramer reported.
“We’re talking about hundreds of families affected every day,” Cuomo said. “Do what you can to save lives. Take the vaccine.”
He was accompanied by clergy and aides.
Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Remarks At Javits Center Mass Vaccination Site
And in many ways, it was a campaign. Not only a campaign to convince minority residents to get vaccinated, but a campaign to keep his job.READ MORE: 2 NYPD Officers Seriously Injured By Fireworks Blast In Queens
The governor also seemed to have a message for those in the Legislature who think he should resign.
“I don’t represent, work for the politicians in Albany. I work for the people of the state,” he said. “I have no agenda besides representing the people of the state of New York.”
Cuomo toured the Javits Center vaccination site — no reporters allowed, no questions allowed — as calls mounted for him to step aside.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has joined others in the Legislature in calling for the governor to resign, but political experts say Cuomo’s decision to make it seem like it’s business as usual — despite the sexual harassment allegations — is right out of the playbook developed by Donald Trump, Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam following his Blackface scandal.
The strategy is to survive what seems like an unsurvivable crisis by trying to focus the public’s attention on governing — in this case the need to vaccinate members of the minority community — and hope to wait out scandal.
Baruch College professor David Birdsell drew the comparison to all three men. He said the governor’s decision to focus on governing is an attempt “To freeze this process, slow it down until the results of the investigation are made public, and tempers are likely to cool during that.”
“The question is do the Democrats in the Legislature, particularly the majority leader in the Senate and the speaker of the Assembly, make it possible for him to go through the motions of normal governance in this month. And of course this is a critical month, with the budget due on the 31st,” Birdsell said.
Meanwhile, several Republican assemblymen began circulating a petition to impeach Cuomo.
“The trust is gone, and to allow the governor to wield that kind of power is not in the best interest of New York,” said Assemblyman Ed Ra.
It’s unclear what effect the petition will have.
Sources told CBS2 the Democrats are not going to allow the Republican minority to control the process. If there is a decision to pursue impeachment, it will be made by the Democrats, and sources said they’re not there yet.MORE NEWS: Nestlé Recalls DiGiorno Frozen Pizzas That Were Mislabeled, May Contain Allergen
At last count, there were about three dozen members of the Legislature calling for Cuomo’s resignation.