Andrew Cuomo finds himself defiantly clinging to power today as most of the state’s elected officials, including many of his fellow Democrats, have called on him to resign.
In an extraordinary 20-minute press conference, the governor lashed out at those who have called for him to step down in the wake of a swirling sexual-harassment scandal, accusing them of participating in “cancel culture” and of “playing politics.”
Cuomo, who has served as governor for a decade, was attorney general before that, and who as a young man worked as an aide to his father, who was also a three-term governor, told reporters, “I am not part of the political club. And you know what? I am proud of that.”
Cuomo also said that although he supports women’s right to come forward and be heard about regarding their allegations of harassment, he also questioned the motives of some who have come forward against him.
“The people of this state have known me for 40 years,” Cuomo added. “I have been in the public eye my entire life … New Yorkers know me. Wait for the facts.”
Today alone both New York and the New York Times published stories with more allegations of how the governor’s office was a toxic workplace, especially for young women. There have now been at least a half-dozen allegations of harassment, and at least two of the governor physically touching women inappropriately. Cuomo has denied this, but when asked by reporters if he had consensual relationships with aides, the governor simply repeated: “I never abused anyone.”
This morning, the three longest-serving members of the state’s congressional delegation, Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, and Nydia Velazquez joined younger, more progressive members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman in calling for Cuomo to step down, as half of the State Senate and a significant portion of the State Assembly has already done.
“The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Nadler said in a statement. “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Cuomo now faces two investigations, one led by a pair of lawyers appointed by Attorney General Letitia James, and one by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. That inquiry was endorsed by Jay Jacobs, the head of the state’s Democratic Party and a close Cuomo ally, which led many lawmakers to conclude that it was more meant to provide cover for the governor than to meaningfully investigate the allegations against him, especially since an overlapping investigation could easily interfere with the one conducted by the attorney general.
Meanwhile, the entire Democratic Senate delegation from Long Island — an area that is considered a Cuomo stronghold — have called on Cuomo to step aside momentarily while the investigations into his conduct continue.
Cuomo has given no indication however that he will heed their call, let alone resign, and has not indicated if he is going to continue to seek reelection to a fourth term. Polls show that Cuomo retains the support of a sizable portion of the electorate, and he still has a $16 million war chest.
Advisers to the governor have continued to insist that the worst allegations against Cuomo have already been aired in the press, only to find that more seem to follow with every passing day. Still, there remains a belief among those close to Cuomo that he can ride out more bad press like the kind he has sustained so far, especially as the public’s attention turns to the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the rollout of a statewide vaccination plan.
Cuomo earlier this month said, “I am not resigning” under any circumstances, but many thought that he would be forced to if the state’s political leaders called on him to do so. So far, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate Majority Leader, has said he should resign; Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has called on the governor to consider resigning; and most of the congressional delegation has said he should step down, including Sean Patrick Maloney, a close Cuomo ally and the head of the House Democratic campaign arm. The governor has spurned their calls and almost seems to be daring the legislature to attempt to impeach him.
It had also been assumed that if Hakeem Jeffries, the Brooklyn congressman and the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House, joined those calling for the governor to resign, or if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did, or even if President Joe Biden did, then Cuomo would have no choice but to give up his long-sought desire for a fourth term, but it is not clear now that anything short of a loss at the polls next year will keep him from another four years in Albany.