New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, bowing to pressure to leave office or face impeachment in the face of a number of sexual-harassment allegations.
Cuomo said in an appearance in New York City that he would leave office in 14 days and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would take over. He maintained that he didn’t harass anyone but was “thoughtless” in the way he spoke to and touched women on his staff.
“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone,” said Cuomo, 63. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”
The move marks a stunning denouement to a decades-long political career. Cuomo had dug in, refusing to leave office even after New York Attorney General Letitia James found that he had violated multiple federal and state harassment laws. County prosecutors are weighing criminal charges, while accusers are considering civil lawsuits.
A year ago, Cuomo was riding high, winning praise for his coronavirus response and talked about as a potential presidential candidate. But in recent months, his reputation soured as women repeatedly came forward with claims of harassment including unsolicited hugs, kisses and touches, questions about their sex lives, even an invitation to play strip poker while on a government plane. The most serious accusation, under criminal investigation by the Albany County sheriff, alleged the governor had groped an aide at his executive mansion.
Cuomo also has faced investigations that his administration covered up COVID-19 nursing-home deaths, provided relatives with virus testing before it was widely available, mishandled construction of the Mario Cuomo Bridge and misused public resources while accepting $5 million to write a book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Cuomo apologized to the 11 women that the attorney general said he harassed. He called the report “false” but said his decision to leave was in the best interest of the people of New York. He said he didn’t intentionally sexually harass anyone and accepts “full responsibility” if he offended anyone.
“The report said I sexually harassed 11 women. That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to. The reaction was outrage — it should have been — however, it was also false,” he said.
Cuomo had released a taped statement after James released her report last Tuesday but has been holed up in the Executive Mansion in Albany and has resisted called to resign from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders around the country. On Tuesday, Cuomo took a helicopter to Manhattan, according to television footage aired on NY1.
On Tuesday, he said that his “instinct is to fight through this controversy because I believe it’s politically motivated,” but that he didn’t want to subject the state to drawn-out impeachment proceedings.
His personal lawyer Rita Glavin on Tuesday said Cuomo wasn’t given a chance to respond to the claims and spent nearly an hour in a press briefing going through each of the women’s accusations outlined by the report. She said that James’s report omitted key evidence, got facts wrong and was meant to “devastate Gov. Cuomo.”
“The investigators acted as the prosecutors, the judge, and the jury,” she said in a virtual press briefing.
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