Biden, Pelosi, Schumer Call On Cuomo to Resign

August 3, 2021 by Dan McCue
In this March 24, 2021 photo, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at his offices in New York. (Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP, File)

President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign after a bombshell report from independent investigators appointed by the state attorney general said he sexually harassed multiple women and that he and his staff attempted to retaliate against the women when they came forward with their stories.

“I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House late Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m sure there were some embraces that were totally innocent. But apparently, the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t,” he added when asked about Cuomo highlighting instances of Biden hugging others in his defense.

In a joint statement, Schumer, who is also the Senate Majority Leader, and Gillibrand, said “the reported actions of the governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable.” 

“Today’s report from the New York State attorney general substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so,” they said.

“The New York State attorney general has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment,” Schumer and Gillibrand continued.

“No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign,” they said.

Pelosi was more succinct. 

“Under Attorney General Letitia James, a comprehensive and independent investigation into the allegations against Governor Cuomo has been completed,” she said.

“As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth,” the speaker continued. “Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the governor to resign.” 

Cuomo, now in a fight for his political life, refused to resign after the report was released by state Attorney General Letitia James. 

Instead, in a 15-minute video address, Cuomo disputed the report’s content and maintained he never treated anyone inappropriately.

“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said.

“First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been,” he said.

Cuomo went on to try to diffuse several of the findings, showing images of him kissing several men and women on the cheek to suggest he did not mean anything sexual by his physical contact with those around him.

“You have seen me do it on TV through all my briefings and for 40 years before that. I try to put people at ease. I try to make them smile. I try to connect with them. And I try to show my appreciation and my friendship. I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated. And I have learned from this,” Cuomo said.

As for the most serious of the allegations made against him — that he reached under a woman’s blouse and groped her breasts in the governor’s mansion, Cuomo was adamant in saying it simply did not happen.

And he said the same for many of the statements attributed to him.

“They read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. They ascribe motives I never had. And simply put, they heard things that I just didn’t say,” Cuomo said.

But state Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, stood by her investigators, saying that she concluded Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law.”

“Specifically, the investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” James said at a press conference.

According to the report compiled by investigators Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark after a five month investigation, at least 11 women have come forward since December 2020 with allegations Cuomo sexually harassed them. 

Over the course of the investigation, Kim and Clarke interviewed 179 individuals. Those interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the Executive Chamber, State Troopers, additional state employees, and others who interacted regularly with the governor. More than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures were also reviewed as evidence during the investigation, the report said.

As part of the investigation, Cuomo also sat with the interviewers and answered questions under oath for 11 hours last month. 

While the governor denied the most serious allegations, the investigators found that he did so by offering “blanket denials” or that he had a “lack of recollection as to specific incidents.” The investigators also found that the governor’s recollection “stood in stark contrast to the strength, specificity, and corroboration of the complainants’ recollections, as well as the reports of many other individuals who offered observations and experiences of the governor’s conduct.” 

Additionally, the investigators said they found that the Executive Chamber was “rife with fear and intimidation” that not only “enabled the above-described instances of harassment to occur,” but also “created a hostile work environment overall.” 

Further, Cuomo, himself, and the Executive Chamber engaged in “retaliatory” behavior by “intend[ing] to discredit and disparage” a former employee that came forward with her story of harassment, the report said.

“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” Attorney General James said. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”

But the governor made clear in his video that New York State voters will see the investigation and its conclusions as nothing more than a political witch hunt.

“Today, we are living in a super-heated, if not toxic, political environment. That shouldn’t be lost on anyone. Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation. One would be naive to think otherwise, and New Yorkers are not naive,” Cuomo said.

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