Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks on August 10, 2021.
Source: New York State
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he would step down in two weeks over a sexual harassment scandal that has crippled his government.
Cuomo’s shock announcement came after his attorney again denied allegations that he had sexually molested someone.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will replace Cuomo and become the first female governor of the Empire State.
Cuomo’s resignation comes a week after a scathing attorney general report found he sexually molested at least 11 women, including current and former employees, and a state police officer.
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Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday that Cuomo, 63, had violated state and federal law in his behavior, which she claimed included unwanted touch and remarks that made women uncomfortable.
Cuomo’s decision to resign came after a wave of Democrats, including President Joe Biden and members of the state’s Congressional delegation – including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand – and in the New York Legislature they either repeated or new demands on the three – Democratic governor’s term of office resigns.
After the report was released, Hochul said she believed Cuomo’s accusers and called the governor’s behavior towards these women “repulsive and illegal”.
Cuomo strongly denied the women’s claims, saying the investigation was tainted by bias against him and by politics.
His resignation came five months after charges of harassment against him exploded in public.
His fall marks a staggering turnaround in his political fortune in 2020, when his handling of the Covid pandemic was widely acclaimed and he was awarded a lucrative book deal to write about his management.
The governor was also mentioned as a possible candidate for Biden or as a potential attorney general in the new administration.
Cuomo had campaigned against resignation for months, which began after several former employees – Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett and Karen Hinton – accused him of inappropriate behavior towards them.
Other women described similar behavior on the part of Cuomo.
One of them, an aide, told supervisors that Cuomo aggressively groped her at the governor’s mansion last year after calling her on the pretext of dealing with a cell phone problem.
The unidentified woman’s account was forwarded to the Albany Police Department, which reached out to her representative.
After James released their report, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office said they were conducting a criminal investigation into the conduct and would request investigative material collected as part of the attorney general’s investigation.
While the governor claimed “I never touched anyone inappropriately” or intended to make women uncomfortable, he admitted in March that he “acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable”.
On March 11, Democratic State Assembly spokesman Carl Heastie cleared an impeachment investigation into Cuomo’s conduct by the Judiciary Committee.
From the dynasty to the end
Cuomo is a son of the late three-term governor Mario Cuomo.
He was previously the New York attorney general and secretary for housing and urban development in the Clinton administration.
Cuomo has three daughters with his ex-wife Kerry Kennedy, whose own father Robert Kennedy served as US attorney general under his brother President John Kennedy and was assassinated in 1968 when he ran for president.
Cuomo became a national star last year.
The governor had received praise for his no-nonsense press conferences explaining the dire toll of Covid-19, his frequent admonitions to take precautions against contagion, and his empathic response to the victims of the pandemic.
Cuomo’s hilarious interviews about Covid with his own brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, won some rave reviews, fed late-night comedians, and fueled criticism from media ethics.
The governor’s press conferences have often been compared to those of then-President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for questioning the conduct of his own medical advisors and repeatedly downplaying the threat of the virus. The governor of New York won an Emmy for his television appearances late last year.
But Cuomo’s Covid management – and his aggressive style of governance as a whole – also bore the seeds of his political destruction.
Contrary to his own party
Although he easily won re-election twice, Cuomo long alienated many Democrats and progressives in the state.
Democratic state lawmakers were also angry about Cuomo’s past tacit alliance with a small clique of Democratic senators who for years effectively turned control of the state’s Senate over to the Republicans, despite the fact that the Democrats held the majority of the seats.
Throughout his political career, Cuomo has had a micromanaging, non-prison way of dealing with adversaries and would-be allies who are slow to bow to his will.
That style was fully reflected in Cuomo’s dealings with Assembly MP Ron Kim, a Democrat, who said in April the governor loudly beat him on a phone call at his home and threatened to take him over for Kim’s criticism of the lack on . to destroy”. Disclosure of death dates related to Covid.
Kim and other lawmakers were upset after hearing from senior governor’s adviser Melissa DeRosa that his government had withheld data on nursing home residents’ deaths from Covid. DeRosa then claimed that the data was being kept secret to avoid being “used against us” by federal prosecutors under the command of Trump’s Attorney General William Barr.
Even when Cuomo adamantly denied Kim’s report of the phone call, he accused Kim of “unethical” behavior in assisting nail salon owners while lawmakers debated adopting industry reforms six years ago.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who himself has been a whipping boy for the governor for a long time, called the phone call “classic Andrew Cuomo”.
“A lot of people in New York state received these calls,” de Blasio said during an MSNBC interview.
“The bullying is nothing new. I think Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad, no officer, no person telling the truth should be treated that way. The threats, the belittling, the request that someone be correct changes. ” Wait … I’ve heard this many, many times, and I know a lot of other people in this state have heard that. “
The controversy over the phone call erupted just before former Cuomo adviser Boylan revived her previous claims that he sexually molested her.
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