The New York attorney general’s office has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed eleven women in violation of state and federal laws. The lengthy independent investigation also concluded that Cuomo retaliated against his accusers.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
Cuomo’s political troubles began earlier this year when his deadly nursing home COVID policy finally started to get traction in the media after the New York attorney general’s office concluded that the New York State Department of Health undercounted nursing home COVID deaths. Several New York state Senate Democrats tried to strip Cuomo of his emergency COVID powers, and he even faced calls for his impeachment for his cover-up of nursing home COVID deaths. Despite that controversy, it wasn’t until multiple women started coming forward accusing Cuomo of sexual misconduct that things really looked bleak for him, and now Cuomo has a second investigation concluding wrongdoing.
Cuomo endorsed James for attorney general in 2018, calling her “a talented lawyer and a powerful advocate.” In addition, Cuomo called her a champion of progressive values who would fight Donald Trump’s agenda. “During these challenging times, the role of Attorney General is more important than ever, and I know she’s the right person for the job.”
She won the Democratic primary easily over her three opponents.
Before this investigation, Cuomo, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, had refused calls to resign, insisting that we wait for the attorney general’s investigation to be completed before determining what he should do. “There is no way I resign. Let’s do the attorney general’s investigation, let’s get the findings and then let’s go from there,” Cuomo said back in March. “I was elected by the people of the state, I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations.”
Needless to say, Cuomo had expected that James’s investigation would exonerate him. Well, he’s lost that gamble. But in a pre-taped statement that aired Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo defended himself and did not resign. So, once again, he’s gambling with his political future.
Though he didn’t say that he’d resign if the investigation concluded he was guilty, the release of this report gives his enemies new ammunition to call for his resignation and impeachment–and it gives his allies political cover to do the same.
Since Cuomo has now refused to resign again, he likely risks impeachment. Between the nursing home scandal and the sexual assault allegations, it may be politically riskier for New York Democrats to support Cuomo than to oust him. In the wake of the AG’s report, there have been bipartisan calls for his impeachment.
For a while, it seemed like he would survive. Last month, Cuomo held a $10,000-a-head fundraiser, which raised over a million dollars for his campaign. Cuomo is up for reelection next year.
Last summer, Cuomo was a rising star in the Democratic Party. He’d been talked about as a potential presidential candidate and was even floated as a replacement to Joe Biden. Cuomo was also rumored to be on Joe Biden’s shortlist for U.S. attorney general. Last year, Biden called Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic the “gold standard.” The White House has since refused to condemn Cuomo over the nursing home COVID scandal. Joe Biden previously refused to call for Cuomo to resign, citing the pending investigation, but said he should resign if the attorney general’s investigation confirmed the allegations. Will he call on Cuomo to resign, especially now that Cuomo has once again denied the allegations? I can’t wait to find out.
Joe Biden himself is no stranger to being accused of sexual impropriety, even sexual assault. Eight women have come forward over the years accusing Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior, including Tara Reade, who says Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in a hallway while she was a staffer in his Senate office in 1993. Multiple people have corroborated her claims.
As of right now, Cuomo clearly has no intention of resigning. So it will be up to the New York legislature to do something if Cuomo is going to be removed. As I said before, New York Democrats have all that they need to oust him. The question now is whether they have the guts to go through with it.