Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, catching New Yorkers off guard, particularly after he began his roughly 20-minute-long speech with a seemingly defiant tone, calling himself a fighter.
The Democratic governor, 63, who has been in office since 2011, came under mounting political pressure to resign over the past week, with members of the State Assembly overwhelmingly saying they would move forward with impeachment hearings if he did not step aside.
“It was an honor to serve,” Cuomo said near the end of his statement, which was broadcast live — the first time he had spoken live since the attorney general's report was made public. He issued a recorded statement last week.
The resignation came seven days after State Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report detailing alleged sexual misconduct by the governor. James’s report included testimony by 179 witnesses and 74,000 pieces of evidence.
Cuomo was apologetic toward the 11 women who had accused him of sexual harassment, but he denied any wrongdoing, saying it was in his nature to touch and hug those around him, including employees under him. He engaged in friendly gestures, not sexual advances, he insisted.
At the beginning of his statement, he said: “The most serious allegations made against me have no credible, factual basis in the report. And there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment.”
Cuomo’s resignation takes effect in 14 days, after which the lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, will take the reins.
Woodmere resident Frank Welner, 74, was surprised but relieved that Cuomo resigned. “I am disappointed they did not put him through the wringer,” Welner said. “I wanted more details about the accusations however I am surprised he resigned. I do not know how much this will help us in 2022.”
At the Bar Harbour Mall in Lawrence, Rosedale resident Makeda Shaw, who admitted to being in her 30s, said she did not expect Cuomo to resign today. “I do not believe he should have resigned, he did an incredible job throughout the pandemic and helped us get through it,” Shaw said. “I have heard about the accusations but as far as his job goes, he has done everything to help New York.”
After calling for Cuomo to resign and thinking that impeachment would be needed if the governor did not step down, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat who represents the Five Towns, issued this statement.
“The governor’s resignation is in the best interest of New York,” Kaminsky stated. “The 11 brave women who came forward and the thorough and fearless investigation from our attorney general brought us to this moment. Incoming Gov. [Kathy] Hochul now faces unprecedented challenges and we must all be ready to help her meet the moment and ensure that Long Island thrives and prospers during her tenure.”
Assemblywoman Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) said in a statement: “Gov. Cuomo did the right thing by resigning. Our focus should continue to be on battling Covid-19 and our state’s recovery. His investigation would cost taxpayers millions and that’s not fair to the hardworking residents of our state. However, Gov. Cuomo still needs to be held accountable. The courageous women who came forward and all the New Yorkers who lost loved ones in nursing homes deserve justice.”
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