After mounting allegations of sexual harassment were levied at him by multiple women, Andrew Cuomo has resigned as Governor of New York, accordion to CNN.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over as Governor of New York in 14 days, becoming the first woman to be governor in the history of the state. Cuomo pledged to make it a “seamless” transfer of power.
“Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that the state government should be doing. I cannot be the cause of that,” Cuomo said in a live-streamed speech from his Manhattan office.“ 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’s what I’ll do.”
Hochul expressed her agreement with Cuomo’s decision and her readiness to assume duties as governor in two weeks.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” she said in a tweet. “As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”
Cuomo’s political career and reputation came crashing down as 11 women, many of whom were much younger aides and advisers, gave testimonies about the Governor’s alleged inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
In one of the accusations, an aide claimed the governor reached under her blouse and groped her while at the Executive Mansion, Cuomo’s official residence, late last year.
The staffer who says Cuomo groped her told investigators that she “in no way, shape or form invited that nor did I ask for it. I didn’t want it. I feel like I was being taken advantage of.”
When news broke about Cuomo’s accusations, many called for his immediate resignation earlier in the year but when the 165-page report, that was led by Attorney General Letitia James was released after a five-month independent investigation, the writing was on the wall.
According to the report, James discovered “that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
“There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate,” she added in an official statement.
When James’ report went public, Cuomo was defiant and maintained his innocence throughout the entire ordeal.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said in a pre-recorded response to the report. “I never touched anybody inappropriately... or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
When the details of the report were revealed, President Joe Biden, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and other prominent Democrats all called for Cuomo to resign. When Biden, who's been a close ally and friend of Cuomo, publicly declared that Cuomo should resign, it was a major political blow that sealed his fate.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) pledged to fast-track his chamber’s impeachment investigation into the governor in the wake of the report.
With his resignation, Hochul will finish out the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends in December 2022. Although Cuomo has resigned, he still can face criminal charges of sexual misconduct and his handling of nursing home data; the state attorney general is also examining if state resources were used on his pandemic memoir.