After a deluge of new reporting this weekend portrayed a culture of sexual harassment and intimidation in his office, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday embraced his defense of choice: tradition.
That wasn’t enough to stop the best Democrats from turning against him.
“If customs change, I will change – customs and behavior,” Cuomo said on a Sunday afternoon conference call with reporters, responding to an article published on Saturday by The Wall Street Journal. In it, former staff member Ana Liss said Cuomo asked her if she had a boyfriend, hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist for a photo .
“Did I take a picture with Mrs. Liss?” Yes, I took a photo with Ms. Liss, ”Cuomo continued. “But taking a picture is common.”
Liss said the behavior was inappropriate and reduced her to “just a skirt”. And almost immediately after the fragile latest offer from a once invulnerable politician, there were fresh calls for resignation, including from leading Democrats in Albany.
Fox News turns to Tyrus, currently involved in sexual harassment lawsuit, for his thoughts on Cuomo
“Every day there is another account that moves away from the business of government,” said state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign,” she added, joining a growing bipartisan choir of state officials demanding Cuomo’s resignation.
In addition to the accusations made by Liss, four other women who worked for or had interactions with Cuomo have now accused him of touching them inappropriately or making unwelcome sexual comments. Cuomo targeted one of them, Karen Hinton, who said NBC Cuomo had hugged her in an “inappropriate” and “unethical” embrace, and that she could feel that the governor was excited. His story was also included in a Washington post investigation that found evidence of decades of “hostile and toxic” behavior in workplaces overseen by the governor.
“What she said is not true,” Cuomo insisted, somehow suggesting that the haters were just there to catch her. “And as anyone who has been involved at any level in New York politics knows, she has long been a political opponent of mine, very critical for many years, and has made many accusations.
Now in his third term as governor, Cuomo, 63, until recently basked in the glow of an Emmy win tied to his COVID-19 briefings. He denied some allegations – including that of former assistant Lindsey Boylan that he kissed her – apologized for making people uncomfortable and, more consistently, pleaded ignorance of convenience in modern workplaces.
Even as the sexual harassment scandal snowballed, Cuomo faces a federal review of misleading coronavirus nursing home death figures under his watch, as well as an assessment of his use of raw power at Albany. More infamously, a state lawmaker recently said Cuomo had called him home and threatened to destroy him, a charge that Cuomo denied, and one charge suggested by an aide was a lie.
On Sunday, the governor categorically rejected the idea of resigning.
“The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually undemocratic,” he said, turning to conservative critiques of the so-called cancellation culture. “We have always done the exact opposite, the system is based on due process. Anyone can make an allegation. But it is in the credibility of the prosecution.
Some Democrats, like Democratic State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, have been calling for Cuomo to step down for days anyway.
In response, Cuomo offered what was perhaps the most unarguably factual thing he said on Sunday: “I have a flash for you. There is politics in politics.
But on Sunday afternoon, politics didn’t seem like a game Cuomo had any more control over. Stewart-Cousins was joined by his fellow Democrat in the Assembly, President Carl Heastie, although he was more lukewarm.
“I think it is time for the governor to take a serious look at whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” he said.
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