An independent investigation, which lasted for five months and included 179 witnesses and 74,000 pieces of evidence, has concluded that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and established a “toxic, hostile, abusive” office culture rife with “intimidation” and “fear.” Given that kind of “leadership,” it should come as no surprise that Cuomo responded grossly inappropriately and defiantly, like some rabid hybrid of Richard Nixon and Donald Trump. The asshole even had a video at the ready in which he used pictures of both President Barack Obama and George W. Bush hugging disaster victims in the aftermath of tragedy to show that powerful people hug other people and it’s totally normal.
What he didn’t have ready was a picture of some other high official who “during a hug, reached under Executive Assistant #1’s blouse and grabbed her breast.” Cuomo insisted Tuesday that all this behavior is just who he is. “I do banter with people,” Cuomo said. “I try to put people at ease. I try to make them smile. I try to show my appreciation and friendship.” Yes, nothing makes a work colleague smile like groping their breast.
Cuomo’s arrogant and tone-deaf response to New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ revelations in the report only made it that much easier for former friends and colleagues to abandon him. That includes President Joe Biden, a longtime ally, telling him it’s time to go. “What I said was if the investigation by the attorney general concluded that the allegations were correct, back in March, I would recommend he resign,” Biden told reporters. “That is what I’m doing today […] I think he should resign,” the president said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is from New York himself, agreed. He, along with New York colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, released a statement saying it was time for Cuomo to go. “As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” the senators said. “Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories—and we commend the women for doing so.”
“No elected official is above the law,” Schumer and Gillibrand concluded. “The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged him to resign if for no other reason than “respect for the office he holds.” She added: “As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth.” New York Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi, and Gregory Meeks released a joint statement saying: “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.” The remainder of the state’s Democratic delegation soon followed suit. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Brian Higgins, Nydia Velázquez, Ritchie Torres, Yvette Clarke, Kathleen Rice, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “For the good of New York State, Andrew Cuomo must resign. If he does not, the New York State Assembly must begin impeachment proceedings.”
Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors from neighboring states—Govs. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Dan McKee of Rhode Island, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania—also called for his resignation, writing in a joint statement that they are “appalled at the findings of the independent investigation.” There’s pretty much no one besides Cuomo and possibly his brother Chris at CNN (CNN—you’ve got a big problem there) who thinks he needs to stay. His refusal to resign will lead to his impeachment.
Carl E. Heastie, the speaker of the State Assembly, said Tuesday: “He can no longer remain in office […] We will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.” He said that Cuomo had “lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority.” The report’s finding are “disturbing,” he said, adding that the conduct by the governor outlined in this report would “indicate someone who is not fit for office.”
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the majority leader of the State Senate, concurred. “This report highlights unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration,” she said in a statement. “As I said when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state. Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor.”
She and many others made it a point to “give a special thank you to the courageous women who bravely stepped forward to shed light on this awful situation. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.” Indeed, the personal and professional risk these women took in taking on Cuomo makes obnoxious denials and excuses that much more egregious. His performance Tuesday will do nothing to help in in this impeachment. He has virtually no one on his side.
Meanwhile, Cuomo is facing a criminal investigation in Albany County, said David Soares, the county district attorney, on Tuesday. Soares said in a statement that his office would request the investigative materials from the attorney general’s report and encouraged other women who have been abused by Cuomo to come forward to assist in the inquiry.
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