Could Cuomo Pardon Himself Before Leaving office?

On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will resign from his post after the damning sexual harassment report by Attorney General Letitia James. However, the question now lies whether or not the scandal-ridden governor could pardon himself before he leaves his post.  

Cuomo denied the charges contained in the report

The New York governor denied the allegations included in the report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James. He also accused the attorney general of bias, stating that the report is proof that there is a lack of fairness in the justice system. 

However, he started his speech by saying that he is “deeply sorry” for the “inappropriate” acts he did during his term. The report claimed that the governor was engaged in inappropriate sexual harassment of 11 women.

Most of them were former and current employees of the state from the year 2013 to 2020.  It can be noted that a few days before Cuomo’s resignation, Britanny Commisso, named as “Executive Assistant #1” in the Attorney General’s report, came out in public to give her story. 

According to Commisso, on one occasion while they were in the governor’s mansion taking a selfie, the governor grabbed her butt. Then, in 2020, Cuomo reached under her shirt and groped her. 

The Executive Assistant went public in an interview with “CBS This Morning” days after Commisso filed criminal charges against Cuomo, making her the first accuser to do so. 

Meanwhile, Andrew McCarthy, Fox News contributor and who served as an assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York stated that there is no provision in the state law that prevents the governor from doing a self-pardon. 

However, McCarthy stated that he does not believe the governor would pardon himself. That’s because the groping act that he is under criminal investigation for is only a misdemeanor, which is not considered a felony sexual assault. Secondly, Cuomo vehemently denied the allegations against him, and a pardon would be equivalent to a confession of guilt.

There are a number of instances in the U.S. history wherein governors pardoned themselves

Yet, there are a lot of instances recorded in the history of the United States wherein governors pardoned themselves. For instance, in 1911, Gov. B.W. Hooper of Tennessee imposed a two-day sentence and then a day later pardoned himself. 

In 1941, Gov. Arthur Langlie of Washington accidentally pardoned himself because of the mistake in transcription of the stenographer. It was however corrected later on. 

Then, in 1956, Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas pardoned himself after he was put in jail. However, the details surrounding the case remain unclear. 

The office of Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment on whether the governor plans to pardon himself. On the other hand, Democrat, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, will take charge as the governor of New York after the effectivity of Cuomo’s resignation on August 24.