New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) introduced on Tuesday that he would resign, following requires his departure after an investigation by the New York state lawyer common discovered he’d sexually harassed a number of feminine workers, violating federal and state regulation.
“New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York,” Cuomo mentioned at an emotional information convention, the place he mentioned he’ll resign from his place in 14 days. “And I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.”
Nine girls accused the governor of sexual harassment and inappropriate feedback earlier this yr, sparking an impartial investigation in March. The ensuing report, filed in August, painted a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” of Cuomo’s conduct, New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D) mentioned.
In at the very least one occasion, investigators discovered that the governor and his senior group actively retaliated in opposition to a girl who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment.
“Gov. Cuomo’s administration fostered a toxic workplace that enabled harassment and created a hostile work environment where staffers did not feel comfortable coming forward with complaints about sexual harassment due to a climate of fear and given the power dynamics,” James mentioned.
Cuomo initially responded by forcefully denying the accusations, prompting New York lawmakers, together with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), to name for him to step down. President Joe Biden additionally voiced help for Cuomo’s resignation.
On Tuesday, Cuomo apologized for feedback he made towards girls, however denied that he sexually harassed anybody.
“There is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment,” Cuomo mentioned. “Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended. There are. And for that I deeply, deeply apologize. I thought a hug and putting my arm around a staffer for a picture was friendly, but she found it to be too forward.”
“I have slipped and called people honey, sweetheart and darling,” he added. “I meant it to be endearing, but women found it dated and offensive.”
Cuomo’s resignation cuts quick a three-term governorship and upends the profession of a onetime Democratic Party star, marking some of the dramatic turns of political fortune in latest U.S. historical past. New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will exchange Cuomo when his resignation is efficient in two weeks, changing into the 57th governor of New York and first lady to carry the workplace.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down,” Hochul mentioned in a press release Tuesday. “It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuomo received reward, and even adoration, for his reassuring day by day televised press conferences. Politics watchers who hailed his poise credited him for providing a style of disaster management that then-President Donald Trump didn’t present.
But as an alternative of catapulting a regional energy dealer to lasting nationwide affect, Cuomo’s transient, TV-fueled rise as a folks hero ― full with an Emmy Award and a seven-figure guide deal ― ended up foreshadowing the delight earlier than a fall.
Beneath the surface-level adulation, Cuomo’s critics on the left and proper had, for months, blasted the governor for a choice to successfully drive ill-equipped nursing properties to admit COVID-19-positive sufferers discharged from hospitals throughout the first, most extreme months of the pandemic.
Cuomo’s refusal to share information in regards to the scale of COVID-19-related deaths in these nursing properties with state lawmakers, and his resolution to inoculate the properties from lawsuits associated to their dealing with of sufferers throughout this era, solely added to his skeptics’ suspicion.
Cuomo’s success at conserving native criticism out of nationwide headlines got here to an abrupt finish in late January when James, the state lawyer common, launched a report about his administration of the nursing home disaster. James, a former Cuomo ally, concluded that due partly to a refusal to rely the deaths of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 in hospitals among the many official tallies of the coronavirus’s impression, the Cuomo administration had been reporting 50% fewer nursing home COVID-19 deaths within the state than there had really been.
Two weeks later, somebody leaked particulars of a dialog between senior Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa and state lawmakers by which she admitted that Cuomo had postponed the discharge of complete nursing home dying information for fear that the Trump administration would benefit from it politically.
Of course, different Democratic governors focused by Trump didn’t reply by attempting to concealing their states’ information.
And with Trump gone from workplace, Cuomo now not had the Republican president as a foil. It was all of the sudden open season on the person whom information retailers had referred to as “America’s governor.”
The FBI and a Brooklyn workplace of President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice introduced an investigation into Cuomo’s dealing with of the nursing home information. And a threatening name from Cuomo to New York Assemblymember Ron Kim (D), who had been outspoken in opposition to the nursing home coverage lengthy earlier than it made nationwide headlines, elicited a number of days of detrimental media protection, bringing to gentle a penchant for bullying that had lengthy been frequent data in Albany.
Cuomo’s alleged cover-up of nursing home COVID-19 deaths was already probably the most important scandal of his decade-long governorship.
Then, one other storm hit. In late February, Lindsey Boylan, a former aide to Cuomo, penned an in depth account of undesirable sexual advances from the governor, together with a suggestion that they “play strip poker” and an unsolicited kiss on the lips. Four extra girls, three of them additionally former aides, got here ahead in fast succession to accuse the governor of comparable conduct.
Charlotte Bennett, a former assistant to Cuomo, recounted how the governor requested her whether or not she had intercourse with older males.
Cuomo denied the small print of Boylan’s story, however not these offered by Bennett.
Instead, he requested the general public to withhold judgment pending an impartial investigation of the incident. He initially sought to have a former decide of his selecting conduct the probe, however in the end agreed to let James oversee the investigation. (She tapped attorneys from third-party regulation corporations for the duty.)
Cuomo additionally claimed he had not meant to point sexual curiosity in his accusers, whilst he apologized for giving Bennett and different girls such an impression.
“I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation,” he mentioned. “To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
The apology wouldn’t be sufficient to retain the help of key political allies. After two extra former aides accused Cuomo of constructing them uncomfortable with feedback and bodily gestures on March 6, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) joined requires his resignation.
Cuomo’s troubles grew on March 9, when a feminine aide went public with an accusation that Cuomo had groped her breast throughout a night go to to his mansion. She was the sixth lady to accuse him of sexual misconduct. Her declare was probably the most critical but; the cost was referred to the Albany police.
Cuomo denied the allegation from the unnamed aide, however confronted more and more uncomfortable questions on his refusal to resign. As governor, he has referred to as on at the very least six elected officers to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct or different impropriety, together with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Northam, who admitted in February 2019 to sporting blackface within the mid-1980s, efficiently resisted requires his departure.
The dams started to interrupt on March 11, when 59 Democratic state lawmakers in each chambers of the New York legislature referred to as for Cuomo’s resignation and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) introduced the initiation of an impeachment inquiry in opposition to Cuomo.
The consolidation of state legislature Democrats in opposition to Cuomo helped push Democrats who characterize New York in Congress over the sting.
Almost all of New York’s congressional Democrats, together with progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the chair of House Democrats’ marketing campaign arm, joined the requires Cuomo’s resignation on March 12. Gillibrand and Schumer adopted shortly thereafter.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and dean of New York’s congressional delegation, was additionally amongst those that concluded it was time for Cuomo to go.
“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 mentioned.
Cuomo initially resisted these calls, however the tide of allegations saved rising. On March 19, considered one of Cuomo’s aides, Alyssa McGrath, instructed The New York Times that Cuomo had, on multiple event, made sexually suggestive remarks to her and stared down her shirt. McGrath mentioned she thought of the therapy “sexual harassment.”
She mentioned she felt that Cuomo subjected her and the unnamed aide, who has accused Cuomo of undesirable groping, to persistently flirtatious innuendo. The unnamed aide confided in McGrath in regards to the alleged groping shortly after it occurred, McGrath instructed the Times.
McGrath got here ahead as a result of she was offended at Cuomo’s public declarations that he had by no means “touched anyone inappropriately,” she instructed the Times.
“I have no doubt in my mind that all of these accusers are telling the truth,” she mentioned.
Ryan Grenoble contributed reporting.
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