Cuomo refuses to resign after bombshell sexual harassment report
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) refused to resign Tuesday after a bombshell report released by state Attorney General Letitia James (D) detailed instances in which he sexually harassed 11 different women.
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.”
Cuomo’s defiant remarks came shortly after the release of the blockbuster report from James’s office.
That report found that Cuomo harassed 11 complainants and retaliated against at least one former employee who came forward with allegations.
The report corroborated a slew of claims from women who had come forward accusing Cuomo of misconduct, including groping, nonconsensual kissing and inappropriate remarks about their romantic or sexual lives.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said at a press conference.
“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.”
In his address, Cuomo took issue with 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.
The governor also looked to cast the investigation as a political endeavor.
“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,” he said.
Cuomo specifically took issue with an allegation made by an anonymous woman who says he groped her and claims from Charlotte Bennett, who says the governor asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life and about surviving sexual assault.
“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.
Still, the rebuttal did little to quell the firestorm that surrounded Cuomo over the report’s findings.
A slew of Democrats in New York and Washington renewed their calls for him to resign in light of the new information, saying his actions were disqualifying and he could no long effectively serve as governor.
“This report highlights unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration. As I said when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said in a statement Tuesday. “Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor.”
–Updated 1:45 p.m.