President Joe Biden called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down on Tuesday following the release of a damning report from the state attorney general that revealed he had sexually harassed several women in his employ.
“I think he should resign,” Biden said, affirming the position he took in the spring when allegations began to surface against the governor. “What I said was if the Attorney General found the allegations to be true in March, I would recommend that he resign. That’s what I’m doing today.”
Biden’s remarks were part of a deluge of new calls for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment on Tuesday after the report was released. From multi-state governors to Cuomo’s own allies in New York City, Democrats seemed poised to close the book on a three-term governor once considered a presidential candidate.
The investigation led by State Attorney General Tish James found that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including an executive assistant whose breasts and buttocks he had groped and a state trooper over his details. ‘he had touched inappropriately. The report concluded that the governor had violated federal and state laws.
Shortly after Biden’s remarks, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie released a statement saying he was ready to speed up the impeachment investigation on Cuomo and hoping to remove him from office. Cuomo would face a trial in the State Senate if he is impeached.
“It is quite clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Democratic majority in the assembly and can no longer remain in office,” Heastie said in a statement. “Once we have received all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will act swiftly and seek to complete our impeachment inquiry as quickly as possible.”
Cuomo, in recorded video remarks released shortly after James concluded a press conference announcing the findings, denied many of the charges and he never touched anyone inappropriately, specifically denying groping the assistant,
Cuomo faced a slew of calls for his resignation from most of the state’s top Democrats in March, but refused to step down and said he would be cleared once the case was cleared. ‘subject to a thorough investigation. But on Tuesday, Cuomo said the investigation – which he had requested and authorized – was politically motivated.
“I have never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” the governor said. Regarding a particular allegation made by an anonymous woman whose attorney threatened legal action, Cuomo said, “I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair jury review.”
But as Tuesday wore on, the governor’s challenge was met with call after call to step down. Many of those who had said months ago that they would hold a judgment until the report was released on Tuesday joined those who have called for Cuomo’s ouster since the allegations first surfaced. At the end of the days, the governor had lost the support of the country’s Democratic establishment, and hardly anyone wanted to defend him.
Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Greg Meeks and Tom Suozzi – among the few members of the New York congressional delegations who have yet to call for Cuomo’s resignation – have said he must step down.
“The Office of Attorney General Tish James has conducted a full, thorough and professional investigation into the troubling allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation found that the governor engaged in abusive behavior towards women, including his subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated federal and state laws, ”the three Democratic members of Congress said in a joint press release.
“We applaud the courageous women who have stepped forward and spoken the truth to power. Now is the time for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and step down, ”they said.
Another erstwhile ally, former Council President Christine Quinn, joined the call for Cuomo’s resignation, saying: “I am deeply saddened and disgusted by the findings.”
Cuomo’s own environmental commissioner tweeted Tuesday that the governor’s actions were unacceptable, even though he did not ask for his resignation.
“All of this behavior is outrageous, unacceptable and unworthy of a public official – or any person,” said Basil Seggos. “I am in awe of the strength of these women. Enough.”
Even Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul – who would take over as governor if Cuomo was impeached or resigned before his term expired – berated the governor’s behavior.
“The Attorney General’s investigation documented disgusting and illegal behavior by the governor towards several women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage to come. No one is above the law, “she said in a statement.” Under the New York Constitution, the Assembly will now determine the next steps. “
She declined to comment further on the Assembly impeachment process “for the time being,” citing her position as the first in the line of succession.
In the evening, four Democratic governors issued a statement calling on Cuomo to step down: Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Dan McKee of Rhode Island.
“We are appalled by the findings of the independent investigation by the New York attorney general,” said the governor. “Governor Cuomo should step down. “
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has previously called for Cuomo’s resignation, called Cuomo’s statement “laughable” during an appearance on CNN. He said the governor had “passed the point of no return”.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the likely next New York City mayor who appeared alongside Cuomo at a joint press conference last month, also called for Cuomo’s impeachment – which he stopped doing until Tuesday. He called the report’s findings “disturbing,” said it is “now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with the impeachment procedure if the governor does not resign ”.
The senses. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called again for Cuomo to stop.
“The New York State Attorney General conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the governor violated federal and state law, sexually harassed current and former employees, retaliated against at least the one of the accusers and created hostile work. environment, ”said Schumer, the Senate majority leader, and Gillibrand in a statement.
“No elected representative is above the law. New Yorkers deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign.
Rep. Jerry 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 released a joint statement saying Cuomo should be put in indictment if he does not resign.
“It is clear that he has engaged in inappropriate, illegal and abusive behavior,” said members of the House.
“The Attorney General’s report is deeply disturbing, clear and comprehensive. For the sake of New York State, Andrew Cuomo must resign. If he doesn’t, the New York State Assembly must initiate impeachment proceedings, “they added.
The group cited Cuomo’s own statement from 2013 calling for the resignation of then-Assembly member Vito Lopez for allegations of sexual misconduct, saying there must be a “zero tolerance policy” towards him. sexual harassment. “We agree,” said members of Congress.
Majority Leader in the Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins reiterated his call for Cuomo’s resignation. “As I said, when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the governor must step down for the good of the state,” she said. “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.”
Bill Mahoney contributed to this report.