The 56th Governor was at the center of a sexual harassment scandal involving 11 women.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo officially resigned Tuesday following the sustained allegations of sexual harassment made by nearly a dozen women, as well as the ongoing scandals that plagued his administration.
The 63-year-old held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement, which was live-streamed on TV and social media. In the 22-minute address from his Manhattan office, he said he takes "full responsibility" for his conduct which has been the source of months-long scrutiny by state officials and national figures alike calling for his resignation. He will take leave in approximately 14 days, ending his decade-long tenure.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government,” Cuomo said in the address.
The move comes after the New York Attorney General's office released a 165-page report last week detailing the sexual harassment claims made by 11 women with former and current ties to the Governor. The report's findings showed a pattern of inappropriate behavior by the Governor displaying unwanted physical contact and comments. Testimony included non-consensual touching, kissing, bodily groping, as well as comments made about the woman's physical appearances. Additionally, victims described a toxic work culture with rampant abuse and intimidation. An example in the report detailed Cuomo's staff releasing a woman's confidential personnel files as retaliation for speaking out on their treatment.
Addressing the people of New York. Watch LIVE: https://t.co/0DOItVsW23— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 10, 2021
The claims that he "sexually harassed multiple women and violated state law" prompted swift calls to resign from local Democratic party members, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. The New York State Assembly's Judiciary Committee is even considering impeachment leading up to the announcement.
When discussing the investigation launched by the Attorney General, Cuomo went on the defense labeling it a "politically-motivated attack," despite the credible accounts thoroughly corroborated by the independent lawyers serving on the case.
While claiming the desire to "fight through the controversy," he acknowledged the "months of political and legal controversy" that would result, not wanting to shoulder the burden on New York residents.
"Time and money that the government should spend managing COVID, guarding against Delta variant, reopening our state, fighting gun violence and saving New York City. All that time would be wasted," he said.
I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 10, 2021
As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.
In regards to those who spoke out on his behavior, he said, "It's not easy to step forward, but you did an important service. And you taught me and you taught others an important lesson. Personal boundaries must be expanded and must be protected," he said.
In addition to the sexual harassment claims, Cuomo's administration has faced heat for other reasons, among them suppressing the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes when reporting the state's total death counts. The U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to pursue an investigation at this time.
Cuomo ended his address on this note:
"Please remember that lesson, hold it dear and hold it up high for this nation to see because it is New York state at her finest: creating her legacy, fulfilling her destiny, giving life and animation to the Lady in the Harbor; saying “Excelsior,” we can be better, we can reach higher, and proclaiming “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one. Unity, community, love, that is our founding premise and our enduring promise. And that is the salvation of this nation, that it so desperately needs to hear. Thank you for the honor of serving you. It has been the honor of my lifetime."
Cuomo served a total of three terms, with prior plans to run for re-election in 2022. He is the son of New York's 52nd Governor Mario Cuomo, who also served three terms between 1983 and 1994.
The former governor's post will be filled by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. She will become the state's 57th Governor and the first woman to hold the seat in New York state history.
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