New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Resigns: 'Let Government Get Back to Governing'
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday following a bombshell report by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which concluded that the governor "sexually harassed multiple women" and, in doing so, "violated federal and state law."
"New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York and I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing," Cuomo, 63, said in a press conference held Tuesday afternoon.
His resignation will be effective in 14 days.
The state attorney general's investigation into Cuomo came on the heels of several current or former staffers accusing the governor of inappropriate workplace behavior including sexual harassment and assault.
James explained during a press conference that the investigation determined that Cuomo engaged in "unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and making inappropriate comments" with both current and former New York state employees. She added that the actions "created a hostile work environment for women."
Lindsay Boylan, who was an economic development adviser and stopped working for Cuomo in 2018, was the first of the women to speak publicly. She initially accused him of misconduct in a series of tweets in December and subsequently detailed her allegations, which included an unwanted kiss, in a lengthy blog post in late February.
Charlotte Bennett claimed in an interview published with The New York Times in February that Cuomo sexually harassed her last year while she was serving as an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the governor's administration.
In an interview with the Times, Anna Ruch alleged that after first meeting the politician at a wedding reception in 2019, Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her.
Ana Liss, a former aide to Cuomo, claimed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the governor engaged in multiple instances of inappropriate verbal and physical conduct while she served as his policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015.
Commisso alleged that Cuomo first groped her on Dec. 31, 2019, while she was at the governor's mansion helping him with a speech. He asked to take a selfie with her, she claimed, and while she took the photo, "his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it."
Commisso added that in November 2020, Cuomo allegedly hugged her in a "sexually aggressive manner" and that when she rebuffed the hug, "shut the door so hard" then "came back to me and that's when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra."
As the attorney general's report detailed, Cuomo's harassment also extended to a female state trooper assigned to his security detail.
In an August press conference, Attorney Anne Clark detailed an incident in which Cuomo, standing behind the officer in an elevator, "ran his finger over [the trooper's] neck, down her spine and said, 'Hey you.' "
In another incident, Clark said Cuomo passed the trooper while she held open a door for him, "took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her belly button to the hip where she keeps her gun." Clark said that incident was confirmed by another state trooper who witnessed it.
Cuomo has insisted he "never inappropriately touched anybody" but apologized for what he insisted was inadvertent behavior.
Despite his denials, lawmakers in New York and elsewhere have been urging Cuomo to step down for months.
Following the release of the attorney general's report, the calls for Cuomo's resignation began to mount, with even President Joe Biden weighing in on the situation.
"He should resign," Biden told reporters at the White House on the same day the report was released in August.
Apart from the sexual harassment report, Cuomo has recently also faced significant criticism for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, particularly when it comes to how his administration released information about nursing home deaths amid the pandemic.
New York has, somewhat controversially, previously only counted the number of nursing home patients who died while at a facility. Residents who died at a hospital after being transferred from a facility were added to another category.
Speaking with reporters in February, Cuomo said he would have done things differently if he could go back, though he said that all COVID-related deaths were "fully, publicly and accurately reported."
With Cuomo's resignation, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the first female governor in New York's history, serving out the remainder of Cuomo's term through 2022.
In a statement released following the attorney general's announcement of its findings, Hochul said she believed the women who accused Cuomo of what she called "repulsive and unlawful behavior."
The New York governor's seat is on the ballot in November.