New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday faced mounting pressure from powerful members of his party, including President Joe Biden and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to resign in the wake of a report that found he sexually harassed multiple women.
The investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office found that Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” and made comments of a “suggestive” sexual nature. The report detailed the allegations of 11 women claiming harassment. Cuomo’s conduct violated multiple federal and state laws, James said.
Cuomo has continued to insist he did nothing wrong and made no indication in remarks on Tuesday that he will step down. But the public outcry from Democrats amounts to the most serious challenge yet to his 11-year grip on New York state politics, and it was far from certain on Tuesday afternoon that he would be able to withstand the pressure to leave office.
“I think he should resign. I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don’t know that for fact. I have not read all that data,” Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins during a news conference when asked whether Cuomo should resign or be impeached by state lawmakers.
Responding later to another reporter’s question, the President said he hadn’t read James’ report, but noted that he previously told ABC News that Cuomo should resign if the investigation confirmed the accusations of harassment.
Shortly before Biden’s remarks, Pelosi also urged Cuomo to resign, saying in a statement that he should step down out of “respect for the office he holds.” The California Democrat added: “As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth.”
In calling for Cuomo to step down, Biden and Pelosi joined New York’s two Democratic US senators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who said earlier in the day that the governor should resign.
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” the senators said in a statement. “Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so.”
They concluded: “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that the report has “documented repulsive” and “unlawful behavior” by Cuomo and that she believes the “brave women” who came forward with their allegations. But, noting that she’s next in the line of succession, Hochul stopped short of calling for the governor’s resignation, saying it would “not be appropriate to comment further on the process at this moment.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who has often feuded with Cuomo, called the actions detailed in the report “unacceptable to anyone, let alone a public servant,” after the mayor was read a summary of the report by reporters.
“I’ve been very clear about the fact that what we have seen is disqualifying,” de Blasio said.
More Democrats join calls for resignation
The report’s findings prompted not only the Democrats who have been calling for Cuomo’s resignation for months to again demand he step down but also pushed several other party leaders who had previously called for the investigation to unfold to say on Tuesday it was time for the governor to leave Albany.
In the wake of the report’s release, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi and Gregory Meeks, who back in March did not call for Cuomo’s immediate resignation, publicly joined their congressional colleagues in doing so.
“The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign,” the three said in a statement.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran declined to call for Cuomo’s resignation back in March, but changed their positions on Tuesday, with Latimer calling the evidence “clear and compelling.”
New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who had launched an impeachment probe into Cuomo earlier this year, said Tuesday that the report was sent to members who will “undertake an in-depth examination of the report” with Assembly counsels and the legal firm it retained.
“The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” Heastie said in a statement, calling the report’s findings “disturbing” and the victims’ accounts “gut-wrenching.”
Cuomo has frequently accused the investigation as being politically motivated and again denied the allegations detailed in the report shortly after it was released on Tuesday.
“I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said in a speech, reiterating a position he has held for months.
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
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