The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he will step down in 14 days, after a damning news report found that he sexually harassed 11 women.
With impeachment looming, it appeared he had no path to remain in office, but Cuomo portrayed his decision as made in the interests of New Yorker’s.
“Government really needs to function today he told a news briefing. The New York Government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death,” he said. “Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that the state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.”
When his resignation takes effect, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become New York’s first female governor. She will serve out the rest of Cuomo’s term. She is also expected to seek election next year.
The action punctuated a breathtaking turn of fortune for a powerful politician who had enjoyed national prominence and high approval ratings during the height of the pandemic.
Governor Cuomo repeatedly denied that he touched any woman inappropriately, and on Tuesday, he reiterated his defenses and also thanked the women “who came forward with sincere complaints.” He apologized for behavior he said was meant to be endearing,” but that women found “dated and offensive.”
Attorney General Letitia James’ Aug. 3 report to the news media, compiled by independent investigators, had painted a much darker picture of Cuomo’s behavior. It elicited an avalanche of calls for the governor to resign, including from longtime friend President Joe Biden and several prominent unions.
Within five days of the report’s release, Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned. James’ report describes DeRosa retaliating against one of the women who publicly accused the governor of harassment.
The report detailed sexual harassment allegations made by former and current staffers and a state trooper as well as people outside of state employment.
One aide, Brittany Commisso, accused the governor of groping her, and inappropriately touching her on several other occasions.
The harassment allegations have overshadowed revelations that Cuomo’s aides doctored the number of deaths in nursing homes from Covid-19 on official reports, that friends and relatives of the governor were given priority for early Covid tests, and that Andrew Cuomo staffers helped write a book that netted the governor a $5.1 million payout.
Promotion of his book has since been suspended.
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