President Biden has called on Andrew Cuomo to resign over sexual harassment allegations from 11 women, joining a growing list of Democrats who are calling on New York’s powerful three-term governor to step aside.
The anti-Cuomo chorus got louder and larger Tuesday after after New York State Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of an independent investigation into the harassment allegations. James described the governor’s behavior as “in violation of both federal and state law.”
That was enough for Biden, who had earlier said he’d call on Cuomo to leave office if the investigation found the allegations to be credible. “I’m sure there were some embraces that were totally innocent,” Biden said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “Apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.”
When he was asked if he was calling on Cuomo to resign, Biden said “yes.” The president declined to say whether he thought Cuomo should be impeached if the governor does not resign.
Cuomo has denied the allegations and did so again on Tuesday, this time by releasing a lengthy report and video that contested the allegations and questioned the motives of his accusers. The report included dozens of pages of photos of politicians hugging, part of the governor’s argument that none of his interactions with the women were abnormal.
The report alleges Cuomo’s actions went well beyond gestures “meant to convey warmth, nothing more,” as Cuomo claimed. The 11 women alleging misconduct include a state trooper who says the governor touched her inappropriately and an executive assistant who says Coumo groped her breast and buttocks. The report also found Cuomo had retaliated against former staffer Lindsey Boylan by leaking internal documents about her to the press and drafting and circulating a letter seeking to discredit her. “The Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” the report said.
Cuomo, known for his steamrolling style, had plenty of enemies before this, and calls for his resignation had begun months go, as sexual harassment claims against him accumulated. The release of the independent investigation report has supercharged efforts for his removal from office — one way or another.
All 27 Democratic U.S. representatives from New York have now called for Cuomo to step down, with Reps. Tom Suozzi, Hakeem Jeffries, and Gregory Meeks speaking up today for the first time.
“The office of Attorney General [Leticia] James conducted a complete, thorough and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law,” the three Democratic members of Congress said in a joint statement. ““We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had also previously not weighed in, issued a statement Tuesday that praised Cuomo’s “love of New York” but urged him to resign. “I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth,” Pelosi’s statement read. “Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand renewed their March calls for Cuomo to resign. “As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate, and completely unacceptable,” they said in a joint statement. “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
Cuomo, however, shows no sign of going quietly. “What matters to me at the end of the day is getting the most done I can for you … and I will not be distracted from that job,” he said in his video address.