Andrew Cuomo has announced he is resigning as governor of New York following a series of sexual misconduct allegations.
“I think that given the circumstances the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government, and therefore that is what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you,” Cuomo said during a live video address, adding that his resignation will take effect 14 days from Tuesday.
Cuomo, 63, had been planning on running for a fourth term in office next year. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over as interim governor until the 2022 election.
Cuomo: "My resignation will be effective in 14 days." pic.twitter.com/LM2n5CwsTX
— Pat Kiernan (@patkiernan) August 10, 2021
The bombshell announcement comes a week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of her office’s investigation into Cuomo’s history of alleged sexual misconduct. James’ report included allegations of harassment and inappropriate touching from 11 women, while detailing a toxic workplace predicated on intimidation and retaliation for actions perceived as disloyal to the governor. James described the governor’s conduct as “disgusting” and “in violation of state and federal law.”
Cuomo has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing since allegations of sexual misconduct started to surface earlier this year. He maintained on Tuesday that the attorney general’s report was “flawed,” “unfair,” and “politically motivated.”
Cuomo acknowledged that he offended the 11 women cited in the report, but blamed shifting norms. “In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,” he said. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There have been generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate, and I should have. No excuses.”
While Cuomo has tried to pass off the conduct in question as innocuous hugging and pecking on the cheek, the report describes multiple instances of groping, including one in which he reached under an assistant’s blouse and “cupped” her breast over her bra, as well as another when he rubbed the same assistant’s butt while they were posing for a picture. “These were not hugs that he would give his mother or his brother,” the assistant, Brittany Commisso recently told CBS This Morning. “These were hugs with the intent of getting some sexual satisfaction.”
Commisso last week filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. Prosecutors in Albany, Manhattan, and Westchester Counties have said they are requesting evidence from Attorney General James’ investigation as they look to launch their own investigations into Cuomo’s alleged misconduct.
Despite a few whiffs of contrition, Cuomo’s address on Tuesday was mostly filled with claims of unfair treatment and various excuses for his behavior. In addressing the female state trooper who told investigators the governor ran his hands along her stomach and down her back, Cuomo said he does not remember doing so and that if he did it was out a habit of physically showing his appreciation and thanks for the job state troopers do.
He then tried to sow doubt in the validity of the accusations. “In a highly political matter like this, there are many agendas and there are many motivations at play,” Cuomo said after attempting to explain his alleged inappropriate touching of the state trooper. “If anyone thought otherwise, they would be naive, and New Yorkers are not naive. But I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints.”
James’ report triggered a wave of calls for Cuomo to resign, from members of the state legislature, to every New York representative in the U.S. Congress, to President Joe Biden. In response to calls to resign over sexual misconduct allegations that arose in February and March, Cuomo said at the time that stepping down would be tantamount to “bowing to cancel culture.” He reiterated his objection to the kind of accountability officials must now face on Tuesday, lamenting the reactionary nature of political discourse and the extent to which Twitter has “become the public square for policy debate.”
Lt. Gov. Hochul will take over for Cuomo on an interim basis in two weeks. She will be the first woman to serve as governor of New York. “I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said following the announcement. “I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”
This story is developing.