New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior from multiple women, and is facing increasing pressure to resign. New York Attorney General Tish James is investigating the scandal. While that important process plays out, numerous people have suggested on social media that if Cuomo is ousted, it could lead to Donald Trump being pardoned on state charges in New York. In this fact check, we explore this specific question.
First, the facts: the Manhattan District Attorney is widely reported to be aggressively pursuing a criminal case against Donald Trump on state charges. If the grand jury in that case does criminally indict Trump, the only person who could pardon him is the Governor of New York. That is currently Andrew Cuomo. If Cuomo were to resign, his current term would be finished by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Now, the context: Kathy Hochul is a Democrat with a history of sharply criticizing Donald Trump, so there is no reason to expect that she would have any interest in pardoning Trump if she becomes Governor. Whether Cuomo or Hochul finishes the current term, it run through the end of 2022. The election will take place in November 2022, and the winner will be sworn in at the start of January 2023. If the Democrats win, it’s nearly a given that Trump will not be pardoned. If the Republicans win, the odds of Trump being pardoned would ostensibly go up, but would still not be a given.
The key detail here is that Cuomo’s resignation would not trigger a special election, and would not give a Republican a shot at becoming Governor any sooner. The Republicans won’t get a shot at the race for Governor until the November 2022 election either way.
So it’s false that Andrew Cuomo’s ouster could directly lead to Donald Trump being pardoned. It’s true that Cuomo’s ouster could hypothetically indirectly increase the odds of Trump being pardoned, but only if you believe that Cuomo would have a better chance of winning in 2022 than Hochul or another Democratic candidate – and while that’s possible, there’s no specific basis for presuming that to be the case.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report