Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday, one week after the release of State Attorney General Letitia James’s comprehensive report detailing alleged sexual misconduct by the governor. James’s report included testimony by 179 witnesses and 74,000 pieces of evidence.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let [the] government get back to governing,” Cuomo said in a televised address. He was apologetic toward the 11 women who accused him of sexual harassment, but he denied any wrongdoing, saying he never intentionally mistreated women.
“The most serious allegations made against me had no credible factual basis in the report,” the governor said. “There is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended. There are. And for that I deeply, deeply apologize.”
The governor, who has been in office since 2011, faced calls from his colleagues in the State Legislature to resign over the past week, with members making it clear that they would move forward with impeachment hearings if he did not step aside.
Cuomo’s resignation will take effect in 14 days, after which New York’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, will succeed him. Despite his announcement, many legislators are still calling for impeachment proceedings to begin, hoping to block Cuomo from entering the political arena again.
Investigators said that the governor subjected women to unwanted kisses; groped their breasts or buttocks or otherwise touched them inappropriately; made insinuating remarks about their looks and their sex lives; and created a work environment “rife with fear and intimidation.”
“While I am glad the governor has finally come to his senses and resigned, it doesn’t surprise me that in doing so, he continued to rip people apart and place the blame for his actions elsewhere,”
Assemblyman Michael Montesano (R-Glen Head) said in a statement. “I hope we can continue to move forward with the impeachment process to ensure this man never holds the office of governor again.”
Hochul, a Democrat and a former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, will become the state’s 57th governor and the first woman to hold the office. She said that Cuomo’s resignation was “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
“Governor Cuomo’s decision to resign will help New York state refocus on the business of the people,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I look forward to working with Kathy Hochul as the next governor to move Nassau County forward.”
“Speaking ‘truth to power’ is never an easy pursuit,” said Assemblyman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove. “As we begin to move forward, let us recognize the courage, strength and integrity of the women who dared to come forward. Moreover, let us commit ourselves to continuing the battle for the inalienable rights of our sisters and daughters in New York and in every other state. I have worked with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul for many years, and have the greatest faith in her ability to lead and heal the people of our state.”
After announcing that he would step down, Cuomo listed a number of his accomplishments, saying that New York had legalized gay marriage, banned assault weapons, raised the minimum wage to $15, made college tuition free for middle-class students attending state schools, built and rebuilt airports, bridges and roads, and battled racism and anti-Semitism. Most recently, he noted, New Yorkers had waged a successful fight against the coronavirus, reducing the state’s infection rate from the highest in the nation to among the lowest.
Cuomo spoke directly to his three daughters, ages 26 and 23, saying that he had made mistakes, and that he had apologized for them and learned from them. Speaking to New Yorkers, he concluded, “Thank you for the honor of serving you.”