New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated this week that he will resign in 14 days because of a sexual harassment scandal that is crippling his ability to govern. He said during a press conference that he didn’t want to distract New York from vital work that needs to be done.
Cuomo’s surprising resignation was livestreamed from his office in Manhattan, just minutes after his attorney denied the accusations that the governor had sexually harassed anyone during his terms in office.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will become the governor in two weeks and will be the first woman governor of the state.
Resignation Comes A Week After Blistering Report From State AG
Cuomo’s resignation came just a week after a damning report released by the New York Attorney General’s office. The report found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 former and current staffers, including a state police trooper that was on his protective detail, and women who did not work in state government.
The resignation also comes as five district attorney’s offices around New York have started probes of possible crimes that the governor committed against some of his accusers.
Cuomo said his motivation to step down is to avoid an impeachment drama that will distract the government from its duties, which is continuing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He said given the current situation, the best way he can help is he resigns and let the government get back to its job.
Cuomo continued to deny some of the serious accusations against him, but he conceded that he had touched some of his accusers in a way that made them uncomfortable. He added that some of the ‘incidental physical contact’ and comments were normal for men who were born when he was.
Governor-Elect Agrees With Cuomo Stepping Down
Governor-Elect Hochul, who is from Buffalo, said that she agree’s with Cuomo’s decision to resign, and it is the right thing to do for the state.
She noted that she has worked at all levels of state government and is ready to lead the state as the new governor.
AG Report Found Cuomo Broke State And Federal Laws
New York Attorney General Letitia James said last week that the governor had broken state and federal laws with his inappropriate conduct, which she said included unwanted touching and sexual remarks that made his victims feel uncomfortable.
In a media interview released this week, Cuomo administrative assistant Brittany Commisso said that the governor had touched her breast in one incident, and patted her rear another time in the Executive Mansion. Commisso said that the governor broke the law.
After the report was released Hochul said she believed all of his accusers, and said that his behavior was illegal and repulsive.
However, Cuomo denied the charges and said the sexual harassment probe was biased against him.
In fact, during his resignation speech, he referred to his daughters, saying that he wanted them to know that he never had disrespected a woman. He did say that he made mistakes and he apologized.
State Assembly Still Considering Impeachment
After Cuomo said he would resign, Democratic Senator James Skoufis said the State Assembly may still impeach the governor. This would allow the state senate to convict him, so he would be barred from holding office in the state again.
Skoufis said if you look into impeachment history, there is a precedent to continue with the process even after the elected official no longer holds office. He apparently was referring to the impeachment of President Trump in early 2021.
Cuomo is the top New York Democrat politician to go down because of a political scandal. In 2008, Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned after he paid for sex with a prostitute. Former House Representative Anthony Weiner went to federal prison in 2017 after he pleaded guilty to sexting with an underage girl.
Cuomo’s Resignation Comes Five Months After Scandal Broke
The sexual harassment allegations broke in April 2021, but the denouement of the scandal was delayed until the release of the AG’s report.
His fall from the governorship is a stunning turnaround from 2020 when he was praised in some circles for his COVID response; he even was given a book deal to write about how he managed the crisis in New York.
Cuomo was even rumored to be a potential running mate for Joe Biden or even Attorney General in the new administration.
Cuomo resisted the constant calls to resign for months, which started after several former aides accused him of sexual harassment.
After James issued her damning report, the district attorney’s office in Albany County said it was looking into alleged crimes committed by the governor and will ask for investigative materials as part of the AG’s probe.
Cuomo is the son of the late Governor Mario Cuomo, who served New York for three terms. Cuomo was the attorney general for New York previously and also served as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development during President Clinton’s administration.