At the beginning of the day Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, now the subject of sexual harassment allegations from six women, faced an impeachment investigation and calls to resign from more than half of the state legislature. Things got worse for him from there.
Within the space of minutes, 11 members of New York's congressional delegation called for Cuomo to resign. Rep. Kathleen Rice had already done so. She’s now joined by Reps. Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Antonio Delgado, and Adriano Espaillat.
Cuomo had long been known to be a bully, but he was successful in his bullying—it was something discussed privately, or alluded to only very carefully in public. Then Lindsey Boylan, a former aide, came forward with detailed allegations that he, among other things, “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” for a long period, eventually kissing her against her will. Boylan’s account was followed by that of another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, who said that, after Cuomo asked her detailed personal questions including whether she had ever had sex with an older man (she had played middle school sports against Cuomo’s daughter), “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared. And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.” Next came Anna Ruch, who said that within minutes of meeting Cuomo at a wedding, she had to remove his hand from her lower back and was then stunned as he put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.
Cuomo’s fourth accuser, Ana Liss, is another former staffer, who offered a similar account to Boylan and Bennett, including inappropriate questions and inappropriate touching, though not to the extent Boylan described. “I’m not claiming sexual harassment per se. I’m just saying that it wasn’t a safe space for young women to work or for women in general,” Liss said. A fifth accuser described an “inappropriate” and “unethical” hug 21 years ago. And the sixth accuser remains unidentified, but apparently still works in Cuomo’s administration and says that he groped her last year.
Nadler kept his statement purely to the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, saying “The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point.” Nadler called for due process in investigations that could lead to criminal charges, but concluded “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.”
In a joint statement, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman focused on the sexual harassment allegations—which, they noted, include two sexual assault allegations—saying “The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff.” Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman also cited “the extensive report from the Attorney General that found the Cuomo Administration hid data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature” in joining—as they emphasized—55 members of the state legislature in calling for his resignation.
Jones' call for Cuomo’s resignation was more wide-ranging, touching on not only sexual harassment and the nursing home deaths, but his handling of vaccination site locations and “an alleged cover-up of potential structural defects in the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.” By contrast, Delgado's statement was terse, describing “a culture of aggression that is unfit to lead.” Not as terse as Espaillat, though, who simply tweeted “It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
Meng: “The mounting sexual harassment allegations against Governor Cuomo are alarming. The challenges facing our state and New Yorkers are unprecedented, and I believe he is unable to govern effectively. The Governor should resign for the good of our state.”
Velazquez: “As one brave victim after another has come forward, it has become undeniable that Governor Cuomo has sexually mistreated women, abused his office, and lost the trust of the public to lead.”
Maloney: “We have come a long way, but now is the time to finally ensure that this generation’s courage stops harassment once and for all.”
Clarke: “These troubling allegations have reached a level that I believe impedes Governor Cuomo’s ability to serve the people of New York State to the best of his abilities.”
At this point, a majority of the House Democrats from New York have called on Cuomo to resign. Additionally, the Long Island Democrats in the state Senate have jointly called on Cuomo to “step aside” for the duration of the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations, allowing Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul to take over during that time, while one state senator said the entire state Senate Democratic delegation wanted him to resign.
Cuomo has thus far responded belligerently to calls for him to resign. Will this tip him over? It’s hard to see what he thinks he can accomplish under these circumstances.
Published with permission of Daily Kos
UPDATE: (Karoli) Cuomo will not resign. A rough transcript of his remarks follows and can be heard in the video above:
As I have said before, and I firmly believe, and my administration is always represented, women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear. There is still a question of the truth.
I did not do what has been alleged, period. I won't speculate about people's possible motives.
But I can tell you, as a former attorney general who has gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation. And that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision.
There are now two reviews underway. No one wants them to happen more quickly and more thoroughly than I do. Let them do it. I'm not going to argue this issue in the press. That is not how it is done, that is not the way it should be done. Serious allegations should be weighed seriously, right? That's why they are called serious.
As I told New Yorkers many times, there are facts and then there are opinions. And I've always separated the two. When I do briefings, I put out the facts and then I offer my opinions. But they are two different concepts.
Politicians who don't know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous. The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance. That, my friends, is politics at its worst. Politicians take positions for all sorts of reasons, including political expediency and bowing to pressure. But people know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth.