UPDATED: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called Friday evening for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign, the highest profile calls yet for the embattled governor to step down – something he insisted earlier in the day he has no intention of doing but will wait for the results of two separate inquiries into allegation of sexual harassment.
“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign,” the two senators from New York said in a joint statement.
PREVIOUSLY: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday blasted politicians for putting “opinions ahead of facts” and said he’ll continue with the business of running New York until a pair of inquiries into allegations of sexual harassment are completed.
“People know the difference between playing politics and bowing to cancel culture,” Cuomo lashed out at a press briefing. “There are now two reviews underway. No one wants them to happen more quickly and more thoroughly than I do. Let them do it. I am not going to argue this issue in the press. That’s not the way it should be done. Serious allegations should be weighed seriously,” he said, implying that calls for him to step down are politically motivated.
“There are facts and then there are opinions and I have always separated the two. I do briefings. I put out the facts then I offer my opinions but they are two different things.”
He denied the allegations, as he has twice before, saying he never harassed, grabbed or assaulted anyone. “I never would.” He admitted only that he may have unwittingly taken awkward photographs with women. Anna Ruch, who never worked for the governor and didn’t know him, said he grabbed her face and kissed her at a wedding reception in September of 2019. There’s a picture showing it.
“Now, is it possible that I have taken a picture with a person who after the fact says that they were uncomfortable with the pose in the picture? Yes. And that’s what you’re hearing about. I have taken thousands of pictures. I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable or awkward.”
“There are times I go to take a picture with a person and I can see they’re stand-offish, and I don’t. I apologize for people I have taken pictures with and who after the fact said they were uncomfortable with that picture,” he said.
The event had been billed as a regular Covid-update press briefing but felt like anything but that as reports have surfaced near daily of women accusing the governor of inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment and assault. The allegations have led to an impeachment inquiry by the Democratic-led State Assembly, an inquiry by New York Attorney General Letiticia James and calls by state and federal lawmakers for him to resign.
Democratic New York Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney among others added their voices to the rising chorus this morning.
Five women, including former aides, have gone public with allegations over the past month. Another accusation of groping was reported in a press account this week and referred to the Albany Police by a state official.
Cuomo has also been under fire for the administration’s reporting of Covid-19 nursing home deaths, which is the subject of a separate inquiry by the NY AG.
Cuomo said there’s important NY state work to be done like passing a crucial budget in the next few weeks and administering millions of vaccines. Asked if he could still be effective given the swirling allegations and calls for him to step down, he said, “This is not the first time we’ve had to walk and chew gum.”
Actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, who ran to the left of Cuomo and lost in an acrimonious Democratic primary in 2018, has been retweeting declarations of pols as they join the call for the governor to step down.
Some of our federal elected leaders are “withholding judgement” on the many charges of sexual misconduct until the outcome of the AG’s investigation.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) March 11, 2021