New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told media, Sunday, that he will not resign from his position amid allegations that he sexually harassed five women and called critics demanding he step down “anti-democratic” and at odds with the voters of New York.
In a conference call early Sunday afternoon, the New York Post reports, a “defiant” Cuomo said that there is “no way” he will resign, even as a fifth woman came forward Saturday suggesting that Cuomo acted in an inappropriate way during a personal interaction. He also lashed out at critics, calling the idea of resigning over “allegations” without establishing their “credibility” “anti-democratic.”
“I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn’t elected by politicians,” Cuomo said during the conference call. “I’m not gonna resign because of allegations.”
“The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic,” he added. “Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in a democracy and that’s great. But it’s in the credibility of the allegation.”
After the first two women came forward last week, Cuomo issued a qualified apology.
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work, and colleagues are often also personal friends. At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.”
He then called for the New York attorney general to launch an independent investigation into his behavior.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to,” he said. “That’s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations. Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period.”
On Sunday, Cuomo reiterated his support for that investigation and stressing that allegations must be “credible” before they become actionable.
That is, of course, in direct contrast to Cuomo’s statements about then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“In New York, we will not waver and will not back down,” he said at the time, stressing the Democrats’ commitment to “believe all women.” “To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and all survivors of sexual assault, we believe you and we will fight for you. The sham FBI investigation and the bigger sham, this confirmation process, have energized us to fight even harder for our shared vision for a better future for all.”
On Saturday, a fourth and fifth woman came forward with allegations against the New York governor, but Cuomo said that they, too, misinterpreted his “friendly banter” and that he would remain in office until he was voted out.
“That’s democracy,” he said. “There is no way I resign.”
Cuomo is also under scrutiny — including, possibly, a federal investigation — over his administration’s decision to send patients recovering from COVID-19 into nursing homes and other adult care facilities even if they were still positive for the virus. That order may have caused thousands of deaths and, the New York Times reports, Cuomo’s administration appears to have deliberately hidden the extent of order’s damage, either to avoid a federal inquiry or to avoid diminishing Cuomo’s reputation for stellar handling of the coronavirus pandemic in New York before he could publish a book on the subject.
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