On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he will resign following a scathing report from the state’s attorney general concluding the third-term Democrat sexually harassed 11 women, and in one instance, sought to retaliate against one of his accusers who went public with her allegations.
Cuomo’s shocking announcement in a Livestream from his Manhattan office came minutes after his lawyer again flatly denied claims that he had sexually harassed anyone during his three terms in office.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let the government get back to governing,” Cuomo said in a speech.
Cuomo continues to deny the allegations of intentionally mistreating women and called the pressure for his ouster politically motivated. But he said that fighting back in this “too hot” political climate would subject the state to months of turmoil.
“I’ve never crossed the line with anyone,” he said. “But, I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”
“My instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe that it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful,” he added.
The third-term governor’s resignation, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the Legislature to remove him by impeachment and after nearly the entire Democratic establishment had turned against him, with President Joe Biden joining those calling on him to resign.
The decision came a week after New York’s attorney general released the results of an investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Investigators said he subjected women to unwanted kisses; groped their breasts or buttocks or otherwise touched them inappropriately; made insinuating remarks about their looks and their sex lives; and created a work environment “rife with fear and intimidation.”
The attorney general’s report found that Cuomo engaged “in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” and made “numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
“Our investigation revealed that the Governor’s sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail and members of the public,” it read.
BREAKING: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces he is resigning in 14 days.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 10, 2021
“I love New York and I love you and everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love,” Cuomo said. “The best way I can help now is if I step aside and that’s what I will do.”
New York Attorney General Leticia James’ report dropped last week after an intensive investigation. James noted that, after interviewing 179 witnesses and reviewing tens of thousands of pieces of evidence, her office believed Cuomo had committed state and federal offenses. The Albany prosecutor’s office announced last week that it had taken the first steps in a criminal investigation pursuant to the attorney general’s findings.
The New York state legislature began an impeachment inquiry in March and had demanded that Cuomo provide any exculpatory evidence to legislators by Friday, in anticipation of moving forward with an impeachment trial.
New York has seen a string of high-level politicians brought down in disgrace in recent years.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 in a prostitution scandal. Rep. Anthony Weiner went to prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stepped down in 2018 after four women accused him of abuse. And the Legislature’s top two leaders were convicted of corruption.