Cuomo was forced to step down amid growing calls for his removal, after a report found he allegedly sexually harassed multiple women, including some staff members.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he was resigning amid growing calls for him to be impeached and removed from office, following a report by the state attorney general's office, which included damning and detailed allegations of sexual harassment against him.
"I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government," Cuomo said in a news conference. "And therefore that is what I'll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you."
Cuomo's announcement came as something of a surprise given he had previously denied the allegations on multiple occasions. However pressure has been mounting for months, coming to a head on Aug. 3 with the release of a blistering report effectively confirming the claims against him.
On that day, state Attorney General Letitia James issued a 165-page report on his "toxic" behavior, which Cuomo himself had authorized.
James' investigation found that Cuomo had allegedly sexually harassed 11 women, including some of his employees, and violated state and federal laws. It corroborated the allegations made by numerous women against him, including "a pattern of inappropriate contact" with a former employee, inappropriate touching, and kissing.
In the wake of the report, the governor took a defensive stance, claiming that "the facts are much different than has been portrayed." His attorney also released a counter report which showed, among other things, various politicians engaging in consensual hugging and touching.
The report prompted Democrats from across the spectrum to call for his resignation, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, as well as President Joe Biden.
But it was state lawmakers' threats of impeachment that appear to have been the breaking point. On Monday, New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Judiciary Committee's inquiry into the matter, which started back in March and included other allegations of misconduct by the governor, would move "with all due haste" in the wake of James' report. Committee Chair Charles Lavine called the details in that report "deeply disturbing."
Cuomo, for his part, continues to maintain he did nothing wrong, despite agreeing to step down. In Tuesday's announcement, he said he wanted his daughters to know that "I never did and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman, treat any woman differently than I would want them treated, and that is God's honest truth."
The governor has said that he will vacate his office in 14 days. Upon his departure, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will step in to serve out the rest of his term as the first female governor in New York's history.
In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Hochul said she agreed with Cuomo's decision to resign, and is "prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.