New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will not resign amid investigations, but he did issue an apology amid the recent allegations of sexual harassment and asked New Yorkers to wait for the results of the state investigation.
"I am not going to resign," Cuomo said during a Wednesday briefing. "I was elected by the people of New York. I'm going to do the job the people of the state elected me to do."
He went on to say "I will fully cooperate" with investigations into his behaviors, adding "I ask people to wait for the report before forming an opinion," and people can "make a decision when you know the facts."
State Attorney General Letitia James is the process of selecting an outside law firm to conduct an investigation into the allegations and produce a report that will be made public.
"I fully support a woman's right to come forward," Cuomo said. "I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.
"It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it. I feel embarrassed by it.
"I never touched anyone inappropriately.
"I never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable," he added. "I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone pain.
"That is the last thing I would want to do."
Cuomo did dismiss references to photos showing him touching and kissing people, calling it his "usual and customary way of greeting" people as a politician.
"You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people, women, men, children," Cuomo said. "I kiss and hug legislators."
Cuomo added at the end of his prepared statement, "I am sorry; I will be the better for this experience."
"I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation for me, as well as other people," he said. "I have learned an important lesson."
Before Wednesday's press conference, the governor last spoke to reporters during a teleconference call on Feb. 22. His last media briefing on video was Feb. 19.
He had not spoken publicly since giving AG James a referral to investigate claims he sexually harassed at least two women in his administration.
One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo's attempted apology, in which he said he had been trying to be "playful" and his jokes had been misinterpreted as flirting.
Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting, and once suggested they play strip poker while aboard his state-owned jet. Cuomo has denied Boylan's allegations.
And third woman, Anna Ruch, told The New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at a September 2019 wedding.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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