New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has resigned from office after a bombshell report released by state Attorney General Letitia James (D) found he sexually harassed 11 women, including some who worked in his office, and violated state and federal laws.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said.
His resignation followed a 45-minute news conference from Rita Glavin, his attorney, The Hill reported.
“This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today. Government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death, government operations. And wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that,” Cuomo said.
“I think given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”
Cuomo thanked “the women who came forward with sincere complaints,” and said that “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”
“You taught me and you taught others an important lesson,” he concluded.
After a four-month investigation, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced in a 168-page report last week that “the governor engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law.”
“Specifically, we find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” the report said.
Cuomo denies sexual harassments
The report was finalized after attorneys interviewed 179 individuals and reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence.
Andrew Cuomo had apologized for scandals but denied any wrongdoing toward any woman he’s interacted with, maintaining his conduct should not be considered sexual harassment.
Even as the calls for his resignation piled up, Andrew Cuomo remained defiant and insisted he would not leave office.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said after James released the damning report.
“That should concern all New Yorkers, because when there is a bias or lack of fairness in the justice system, it is a concern for everyone, not just those immediately affected,” Cuomo said.
Earlier in the conference, Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin also accused the state investigators of bias, ignoring evidence that didn’t fit their “narrative,” and said the media created a “feeding frenzy” over the findings instead of sticking to the facts.
Cuomo’s resignation marks the second time in 13 years that a New York governor has stepped down in scandal, after Eliot Spitzer quit in 2008 over his patronage of prostitutes. Cuomo also became the latest powerful man taken down in recent years following the rise of the #MeToo social movement against sexual abuse and harassment that has shaken politics, Hollywood, the business world and the workplace.
The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee is expected to complete its impeachment probe later this week.
His resignation also follows widespread questions about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the state’s nursing homes.
Cuomo, 63, was elected to three terms as governor, as was his late father, Mario Cuomo. He previously served as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary from 1997 to 2001 under former President Bill Clinton.
Kathy Hochul becomes the first woman to lead New York state
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat from western New York, will take over as governor of the state of more than 19 million people until the end of Cuomo’s term in December 2022 as outlined in the state’s constitution.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is becoming the first woman to lead New York state.
Hochul will take power in two weeks at a crucial time for New York, which like much of the nation is grappling with a rise in coronavirus cases. But Cuomo said Hochul would use the next 14 days to get up to speed and would be ready to take over the governorship when his resignation takes effect.
“Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent,” Cuomo said. “This transition must be seamless.”
Elise Stefanik calls for Andrew Cuomo’s arrest
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s arrest.
“New Yorkers have lived for far too long under the Worst Governor in America’s corrupt and criminal tenure,” said Stefanik. “This resignation is long past overdue. Governor Cuomo needs to be arrested and prosecuted for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. Governor Cuomo also needs to be arrested and prosecuted for his criminal acts covering up the tragic deaths of our most vulnerable seniors in nursing homes.”
“In addition, Governor Cuomo and his staff, funded by the taxpayers, must be prosecuted for illegally using state resources to negotiate a multimillion-dollar book deal. There are multiple federal and state laws that the Governor and his staff have broken, and they need to be held accountable,” the New York Republican continued. “Every New Yorker must know that there is equal justice under the law – no matter if you are the most powerful figure in New York or an everyday New Yorker.”
“The systemic culture of criminal corruption, political vengeance, and illegal retaliation under Andrew Cuomo was brushed under the rug for years by Democrats, the media, and the cesspool of Albany. It is a disgraceful chapter in New York’s history,” she added. “The next Governor Kathy Hochul must purge Cuomo’s abusive, corrupt, and criminal political appointees immediately to clean house for the sake of every New Yorker.”