Under Pressure

New York elected officials call for Cuomo to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations; governor refuses to give in to “cancel culture”

| 12 Mar 2021 | 03:00

Calls from state and city leaders for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation had trickled in slowly over the past several weeks as allegations of sexual harassment grew against the governor – that is until Friday morning, when, suddenly, over the span of a couple hours, the majority of New York’s congressional delegation and the city’s mayor joined the call for Cuomo to step down.

“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,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.”

At an afternoon call with reporters, Cuomo did not waver, and again said he would not resign.

“I did not do what has been alleged, period,” said Cuomo.

The calls for Cuomo to step down follow weeks of turmoil in which at least six women have accused the governor of sexual harassment or inappropriate touching. This week, the Albany Times Union reported an allegation from a staff member that Cuomo groped her at the Executive Mansion. All of this follows reports that the Cuomo administration deliberately obscured the total number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. The Attorney General’s office has been tasked with investigating the sexual harassment claims, and yesterday, the State Assembly authorized the Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment probe.

In speaking to reporters, Cuomo said legislators demanding his resignation before the investigations into the allegations have concluded is “reckless and dangerous.” He added that he would not give in to “cancel culture.”

The cascade of statements from the congressional delegation was coordinated, according a report from CNN. Members decided Thursday to call for Cuomo’s resignation, but elected to wait until Friday morning to issue statements so as not to take attention away from President Joe Biden’s address to the nation Thursday evening.

U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said in a joint statement late on Friday afternoon: “It is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”

“A Political Judgment”

As of Friday evening, 17 House members had called for Cuomo to resign, including Jamaal Bowman, Yvette Clarke, Antonio Delgado, Adriano Espaillat, Brian Higgins, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Patrick Maloney, Grace Meng, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kathleen Rice, Paul Tonko, Nydia M. Velázquez, Tom Suozzi, Sean Patrick Maloney, Joe Morelle, and Ritchie Torres.

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks also put out statements Friday, but made their call for resignation conditional. Jeffries said “the Governor must consider whether he can continue to effectively lead the state.” In his statement, Meeks said “New York ... needs a leader who can effectively govern without distractions - if Governor Cuomo cannot effectively do this, he should resign.”

In his statement, Nadler made a distinction between the right to due process under the law and the privilege of holding a public office.

“There is a difference between formal investigations that may lead to criminal charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership,” said Nadler. “The question before us is squarely a political judgment.”

Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, said she admired the courage it took for women to come forward with their stories.

“We have come a long way,” she said, “but now is the time to finally ensure that this generation’s courage stops harassment once and for all.”

During a press conference Friday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio for the first time directly called for Cuomo’s resignation.

“What we’re seeing here is a pattern of cover up and a pattern of lies,” de Blasio told reporters. “It is unacceptable. The governor must resign. He can no longer do the job.”

Republican members of Congress had also demanded Cuomo’s resignation, including Lee Zeldin, Nicole Malliotakis and Tom Reed.

“It is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.” Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand