Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned Tuesday after nearly every prominent member of his own party — including President Joe Biden — called on him to leave office amid a flood of scandals, including nearly a dozen allegations of sexual harassment, at least one of which is being investigated as a criminal complaint.
In a midday press conference, Cuomo repeated his defense that he did not intend to offend anyone with his behavior before announcing that he would step aside, effective in 14 days.
"New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. 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 governing. And therefore that’s what I’ll do because I work for you," Cuomo said.
Just before announcing his resignation, Cuomo said: "This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen, that is how the political wind is blowing. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It will brutalize people.
"I cannot be the cause of that."
Cuomo spent the first 10 minutes giving his version of the sexual harassment allegations. He said he "deeply, deeply" apologized for offending the women, but said they misconstrued his actions.
"I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said.
"In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn."
The governor also directed comments at his three daughters by saying he "never did, and I never would, intentionally disrespect a woman or 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," he said.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned late Sunday in the latest defection from the three-term governor’s shrinking team. The New York State Assembly is investigating Cuomo’s conduct regarding the harassment allegations as well as his handling of thousands of nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Assembly took up the effort shortly after state Attorney General Letitia James released a long-awaited report on Aug. 3 detailing many of the allegations of misconduct, including one instance in which Cuomo is accused of groping a former aide at the governor’s mansion, and allegations he inappropriately touched a female state trooper.
Cuomo, 63, has for months maintained a tenuous hold on office as many Democrats, while not supporting the governor, said they wanted to wait until James’ investigation had finished and established "the facts." Once the report was out, calls for Cuomo to go were swift and nearly universal.
Cuomo has largely denied the charges leveled against him by a series of women, most of whom were former aides. But he acknowledged during an apologetic press conference in March and in a more defiant early August statement that some of the interactions may not have been perceived as he’d intended them.
The furor over the sexual harassment allegations largely obscured the other scandal that’s threatened Cuomo’s gubernatorial grip — his office’s order that forced New York nursing homes to take patients who were positive for the COVID-19 virus. Critics have said, and news investigations have shown, that the governor’s office significantly downplayed and sought to keep quiet the thousands of deaths that resulted after the order and those allegations have dogged Cuomo even before the sex harassment scandal enveloped his administration.
On its own, the nursing home scandal may have been an impediment toward his stated desire to seek a fourth term in Albany, where, as New York’s 56th head of state, Cuomo has held office since 2011.
Cuomo was initially praised in the mainstream media for his opposition to former President Donald Trump and his management of New York’s pandemic response. He won an Emmy for his daily news conferences updating the public on the coronavirus and also wrote a book about leadership, drawing on his experiences during the pandemic. He was also floated as a potential future Democrat presidential candidate and was believed to be under consideration to be President Joe Biden’s attorney general, a post that eventually went to Merrick Garland.
Cuomo, the son of a former New York governor, the late Mario Cuomo, appeared during the coronavirus outbreak on the primetime CNN show of his brother, Chris Cuomo, who termed the divorced New York leader "the love gov" during a series of playful segments that skirted any serious questions about the pandemic or Cuomo’s potential mismanagement of the state during it.
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