Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have joined others to call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to esign amid growing sexual harassment allegations against him, but he is growing more and more defiant.
The two senators, who were under pressure themselves to call on Cuomo to resign after other state officials and House lawmakers had done so, said in a joint statement on Friday that it would be difficult for him to continue to govern given the controversies.
“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership," the two senators said. "We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct," they continued.
"Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Although no spokesperson for Cuomo immediately responded to the blow, the governor does not seem to be giving up. Earlier in the day, in a conference call with reporters, Cuomo cast himself as the victim of “cancel culture” and as the target of other politicians who “take positions for all sorts of reasons, including political expediency.”
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are in my opinion reckless and dangerous. The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes an opinion without knowing the facts and substance,” Cuomo said. “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed, I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people.”
Those remarks came after nine members of New York’s congressional delegation — including high profile names such as House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — called for his resignation. New York Democratic Reps. Mondaire Jones, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velázquez and Grace Meng have also called for Cuomo's resignation.
“The repeated accusations against the governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Nadler said.
“As members of the New York delegation to the US House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges," Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman added in a joint statement.
The growing chorus pushing for Cuomo’s departure comes as the governor faces mounting allegations of harassment from former aides and others as well as scrutiny over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
His administration has come under bipartisan fire after it was revealed it intentionally undercounted the number of people in New York nursing homes who died from COVID-19 out of fear that the Trump administration would launch an investigation.
Cuomo has faced allegations of groping and unwanted kissing, and women who have come out against him have also said he asked personal questions about their sex lives and made other inappropriate comments in the workplace.
A seventh woman has now come forward to accuse the New York governor of inappropriate behavior. A former aide who was identified only as “Kaitlan” told New York Magazine that Cuomo had been “verbally and mentally” abusive to her. The most egregious allegation to date comes from another unnamed aide who said Cuomo groped her at the gubernatorial mansion in Albany, the official residence of the governor of New York.
In addition to the growing opposition from members of the New York congressional delegation, Cuomo is also facing an independent investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James into the harassment allegations. And New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Thursday that the Assembly Judiciary Committee would open its own inquiry that could lead to Cuomo’s impeachment.