New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday he was resigning after a withering report from the state’s attorney general alleged he had sexually harassed multiple women, heading off impeachment proceedings.
“And I think that given the circumstances the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government, and therefore that is what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you,” Cuomo said.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will serve the rest of his term, and will be the state’s first female governor.
“It is a matter of life and death. Government operations and wasting energy on distraction is the last thing government should be,” Cuomo said. “I cannot be the cause. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”
Facing impeachment proceedings, which he admitted he would be unable to counter, Cuomo, 63, announced he’ll leave office in 14 days while continuing to insist that he did nothing wrong.
Speaking to his three daughters, Cuomo said, “I want them to know from the bottom of my heart that I never did and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman, treat any woman differently than I would want them treated and that is the God’s honest truth.”
“Your dad made mistakes. And he apologized, and he learned from it and that’s what life is all about.”
After he was first hit with sexual harassment allegations earlier this year, Cuomo ignored bipartisan demands that he resign, and predicted the investigation he authorized state Attorney General Letitia James to carry out would exonerate him. Instead, the report alleged that he’d harassed 11 women — nine of whom were state employees — and subjected some of them to unwelcome touching and groping. His office also retaliated against one of the women after she spoke out about how she was treated, the report alleged.
In the wake of the report, the state Assembly had begun to organize impeachment proceedings. Local law enforcement officials also announced they were investigating whether criminal charges were appropriate.
The attorney general was asked if Cuomo should step down after she released the report last week. “That decision is up to the governor himself. The report speaks for itself,” she responded.
President Joe Biden, a longtime Cuomo ally, was more blunt when he was asked about the report. “I think he should resign,” Biden said.
The resignation caps a remarkable fall from grace for the third-term governor, who was riding high in public opinion polls last year after his public briefings about the coronavirus pandemic in his hard-hit state were lauded.