New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will resign over allegations he sexually harassed at least 11 women, he said in a press conference Tuesday, heading off a potential impeachment trial that was likely set to kick off next week.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way that I can help now is if I step aside and let the government back to governing,” Cuomo said.
Ahead of announcing his resignation, however, Cuomo again reiterated that he denies the sexual harassment allegations and alleged that media and social media weaponized the attorney general’s report, which he said did not allow for a fair hearing. He then said that the allegations were a “distraction” but that he needed to resign his office, regardless.
“I’ve never crossed the line with anyone,” he said. “But, I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”
“My instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe that it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful,” he added.
The resignation will take effect in 14 days. When Cuomo officially steps down from his position, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a little-known New York Democrat who has served with him for two terms, will assume office. Last week, Hochul called his behavior “repulsive ” and “unlawful” but declined to comment extensively, citing her place in the line of succession.
The governor’s decision comes amidst mounting pressure from high-profile Democratic politicians, including President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), over the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct outlined in the attorney general’s report.
The attorney general’s report found that Cuomo engaged “in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching” and made “numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
“Our investigation revealed that the Governor’s sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail and members of the public,” it read.
BREAKING: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces he is resigning in 14 days.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 10, 2021
“I love New York and I love you and everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love,” Cuomo said. “The best way I can help now is if I step aside and that’s what I will do.”
New York Attorney General Leticia James’ report dropped last week after an intensive investigation. James noted that, after interviewing 179 witnesses and reviewing tens of thousands of pieces of evidence, her office believed Cuomo had committed state and federal offenses. The Albany prosecutor’s office announced last week that it had taken the first steps in a criminal investigation pursuant to the attorney general’s findings.
The New York state legislature began an impeachment inquiry in March and had demanded that Cuomo provide any exculpatory evidence to legislators by Friday, in anticipation of moving forward with an impeachment trial.
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