New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, set to leave office tonight amid allegations of sexual harassment, blasted New York Attorney General Letitia James and his critics, calling his demise was the result of “intense political pressure” and a “media frenzy.”
A truculent-sounding governor used the first half of a farewell address to address “the current situation involving me.”
“Let me say now that when the government politicizes allegations and the headlines condemn without facts, you undermine the justice system and that doesn’t serve women and it doesn’t serve men or society. Of course everyone has a right to come forward and we approve their bravery and courage in doing so but allegations must still be scrutinized and verified,” he said.
“The truth will come out in time. Of that I am confident,” he said.
On August 3, the AG released the results of an independent investigation that found Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women, including groping, kisses, hugging and inappropriate comments and that the governor and his senior team took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story.
“The Attorney General’s report was designed to be a political firecracker, and it worked,” Cuomo said. He stressed he was only stepping down because of the distraction caused by the probes.
The State legislature was also moving forward with a separate impeachment investigation of the harassment allegations as well as accusations — also denied — that Cuomo’s administration dramatically undercounted Covid nursing home deaths. Cuomo stressed again today that he is only stepping down to avoid the risk of political paralysis created by the multiple probes.
His 15-minute address, way shorter than his famous Covid briefings that last year enraptured the nation and won him a special Emmy. capped a long rise and fast fall from grace that has embroiled his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo as well as the nonprofit Time’s Up.
Cuomo announced his resignation on August 11, giving himself two weeks to wrap things up. He formally steps down at 11:59 tonight. Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the first female governor of the state when she is sworn in shortly after midnight. She will serve out the remaining 16 months of Cuomo’s term and has announced she plans to run for election.
The governor took the second half of the address to emphasize his progressive but independent cred that included strides for minorities and women but was also pro-business and anti defund the police.
His ties with the celebrity studded, politically connected Times Up organization that grew out of the Me Too movement recently resulted in the board chair of the group Roberta Kaplan stepping down and CEO Tina Tchen under fire.
Cuomo has been seen a friend to the entertainment industry, which will now be working with Hochul on key issues including preserving the state’s production tax credits. New York
Flo Mitchell-Brown, Chair of the New York Production Alliance told Deadline: “Our community has had a good relationship with incoming Governor Hochul, who has made a point to get to know us over the years. She understands our industry as the job creators we are, and we look forward to continuing to work with her.”
NATO and its president Joe Masher will also be lobbying Hochul’s administration on behalf of movie theaters, which got a rough deal under Cuomo’s reopening plans that kept them shuttered far longer than other kinds of venues. Mayor Bill De Blasio recently implemented a vaccine mandate for New York City’s indoor gathering places including cinemas that NATO has accepted and is working through.
Outgoing De Blasio, who is wrapping up his second term, and Cuomo can’t stand each other. Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams looks set to succeed him after elections in November. “Eric Adams will be the next mayor of New York City. I think he will bring a new philosophy and competency to the position that can give New York City residents hope for the future,” said Cuomo in a parting De Blasio dig.
“Kathy Hochul will become governor and I believe she will step up to the challenge. We all wish her success,” he said.
Cuomo thanked his staff, his family and New Yorkers. “We didn’t get everything done we wanted to … and we didn’t always get it quite right. But I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that every day I worked my hardest. I gave it my all and I tried my best to deliver for you, and that’s the God’s honest truth.”