NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo conducts a press briefing, New York, NY – July 23, 2020
Photo credit: lev radin / Shutterstock.com
(NBC) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been under fire for most of the year, facing allegations on four fronts — sexual harassment of young women in his orbit, verbal harassment and threats against other politicians, safety issues with a bridge named for his father, and mishandling of the COVID epidemic in nursing homes.
The state investigation into harassment claims has come to a close after several months. On Tuesday morning, New York Attorney General Letitia James and the team of attorneys selected to investigate allegations of sexual harassment made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo have completed their investigation and released a public report of their findings.
The attorney general’s report, which is being made available to the public for the first time, found that the harassment claimed by a number of the governor’s accusers is in violation of state and federal law.
The governor “sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a sexually suggestive nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” the attorney general stated.
Democrats in February and March at all levels of government called for the three-term governor and political scion to resign. Cries for Cuomo’s resignation quieted as investigations continued into the summer months and the governor refused to bow to pressure. However, following the report’s conclusion calls for Cuomo’s resignation and impeachment have taken center stage once again.
Here is the latest list of Democrats calling on Cuomo to step down once again following the stunning revelations of James’ report. (List current as of 3:47 p.m. ET, Aug. 4.)
New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay S. Jacobs, a staunch Cuomo ally, called on Cuomo to resign, saying his removal from office is “clearly, inevitable.”
In a statement released a day after the scathing AG report, Jacobs said in part: “The facts presented make clear that there is a preponderance of evidence of both a toxic workplace and actual sexual harassment. I agree with the Attorney General. I believe the women. I believe the allegations. I cannot speak to the Governor’s motivations. What I can say is that the Governor has lost his ability to govern, both practically and morally. The Party and this State will not be well served by a long, protracted removal process designed only to delay what is now, clearly, inevitable.
“Let me be clear: Our State and its citizens are better off having had Andrew Cuomo as our Governor. It is my hope that the legacy of the progressive change he brought to our people and the renewal of infrastructure he brought to our State will outshine the darkness of this sorry episode. And so, it is with sadness and a measure of regret that I must ask the Governor to resign his office and allow the important work of the State – work that he did so much to advance – to continue.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released the following statement on the release of James’ report:
“My first thoughts are with the women who were subject to this abhorrent behavior, and their bravery in stepping forward to share their stories. The Attorney General’s detailed and thorough report substantiates many disturbing instances of severe misconduct. Andrew Cuomo committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, and intimidated a whistleblower. It is disqualifying.
“It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor. He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”
De Blasio later said in an interview that the details inside the report were “disgusting and troubling and unacceptable” and said the women “went through hell.” He went on to say that Cuomo’s response was “laughable, his pictures of him with family members as a defense was an insult to these women, an insult to the whole notion that a public servant is held to a high standard. When asked if Cuomo should face criminal charges if he doesn’t resign or get impeached, the mayor said that “it looks that way to me.”
President Joe Biden called on Cuomo to resign, saying at a press conference that he stands by his previous statement from March in which he said the governor should step down if the AG’s investigation found the claims to be credible. When asked directly if he thinks Cuomo should resign, Biden replied bluntly “yes.”
Biden stopped short of calling on the New York Legislature to impeach Cuomo, saying “let’s take one thing at a time…I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach, I don’t know that for a fact, I’ve not read all that data.”
The president was also asked about a photo Cuomo used in his response to the findings, in which the two were embracing. The governor showed the photo as an example of how he said the embraces were commonplace for him, but Biden said that “I’m sure that there were some embraces that were totally innocent, but apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.”
He said he had not spoken to Cuomo on Tuesday.
Governors Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Dan McKee of Rhode Island, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania — all of whom have worked closely with Cuomo since the start of the pandemic, Lamont and Murphy in particular — released a short yet powerful joint statement, stating that they are “appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign from office.”
Democratic nominee for New York City mayor Eric Adams also released a statement after the findings of the investigation into Cuomo.
“Attorney General James conducted a thorough and revealing investigation that yielded disturbing conclusions about the conduct of Governor Cuomo. It is now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued a statement commending the bravery of all the woman who came forward and calling for Cuomo to step down.
“Gov. Cuomo’s actions outlined in the Attorney General’s report are intolerable. No employee should he subjected to the kind of behavior detailed in this report, and no one is above the law. He is unfit to lead this state, and I reiterate my call for him to step down from office,” Johnson’s statement said in part.
Jumaane D. Williams, New York City Public Advocate, also called fort the governor to resign or face impeachment.
“Andrew Cuomo has acted for his entire career with abusive impunity, but his shamelessness cannot equate with immunity. He created a culture of abuse which he has long employed to evade accountability, but the creation of that culture itself demands accountability. He cannot continue to serve as Governor, and must resign immediately or be impeached expeditiously.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said in a statement:
“The New York State Attorney General’s report reveals a devastating reality survivors endure every day. I applaud Attorney General James for overseeing this investigation with the utmost integrity and respect.
“Today I am especially thinking of all the survivors who are in pain due to the Governor’s behavior. I hope they feel justice was partially served today, and it is now up to the State Legislature to complete. I hope the Assembly swiftly moves forward with impeachment proceedings if Governor Cuomo does not resign. New Yorkers deserve better, and the Governor should resign.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also called for Cuomo’s resignation, saying via a statement: “Under Attorney General Letitia James, a comprehensive and independent investigation into the allegations against Governor Cuomo has been completed.
“As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth.
“Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign.”
The No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, Democratic Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, said Cuomo “ought to save himself and the state the agony” of an impeachment trial, and should resign before it reaches that stage.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) spoke to cameras briefly outside of her Senate Russell office, reacting to the New York Attorney General’s report on Gov. Cuomo. Once again, Gillibrand reiterated that she believes Cuomo should resign. She called the report “deeply, deeply disturbing.”
Subsequently, in a joint statement, Gillibrand and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable. Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so.
“The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment.
“No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones made brief on camera remarks after an event.
“This is, yet the latest piece in a really growing body of evidence that the governor is unfit to continue leading the state that we need new leadership,” Jones said.
New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman issued a statement, which said in part:
“I’ve listened to Governor Cuomo’s pre-produced response that seemed to mock these serious and disturbing charges and shamefully called into question the truthfulness of the survivors. I reiterate my earlier call that Governor Cuomo resign. If not, I trust the State Assembly will take the appropriate steps to begin his removal from office.”
New York State Sen. James Skoufis also called for Cuomo to resign or face impeachment.
“Five months ago to the day, I was one of the first Democratic legislators to call for the Governor’s resignation. I’d seen enough. And for his part, the Governor pleaded for us all to ‘wait for the facts’ and allow for due process. He pleaded with New Yorkers to allow for the Attorney General’s work to conclude before forming an opinion. To respect the facts,” Skoufis’ statement reads in part. “Well, many New Yorkers waited. Due process is now over. This report is damning.”
Skoufis goes on to say: “For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign now. If he still refuses to do so, the Legislature, initiated by the Assembly, ought to begin the process to remove him.”
Meanwhile, New York State Sen. John E. Brooks called for Cuomo to resign by “the end of the day.”
“Several times since these allegations against Governor Cuomo have come to light I have stated that I have full faith in Attorney General James and her capability to conduct a fair and exhaustive investigation,” Brooks said in a statement. “Previously I had called for the Governor to step aside while the inquiry took its course and with the release of today’s report it is plainly evident that Andrew Cuomo has both broken the law and violated the public trust. By committing these acts of sexual harassment and focused retaliations, he has damaged the office he holds and no longer retains the right to keep it. I applaud Attorney General James for the diligent investigative effort she and her team made in the face of fierce opposition, I respect the courage and determination of these 11 women for coming forward, and I am calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign by the end of the day.”
Representatives Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03) and Gregory Meeks (NY-05) issued the following joint statement:
“The office of Attorney General Tish James conducted a complete, thorough and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law. We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”
New York State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz called the findings in the report “nauseating and antithetical.”
In a statement Dinowitz said: “The conduct described in the Attorney General’s report is nauseating and is antithetical to the ideals that we must uphold in New York State. I feel terrible for the women who experienced such outrageous behavior while working on behalf of the people of New York. I’ve said from the beginning that there must be due process and we cannot operate in a system of ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Now that the Attorney General’s investigation is complete, it is clear to me that Governor Cuomo has had due process. It is time for the governor to resign, for the good of our state.”
New York Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski called the findings “repugnant.”
“The AG’s report on Governor Cuomo was issued earlier today and as we review the 168 page report and all exhibits, it is clear that many of the details are repugnant. No-one should have to endure this type of harassment and it takes courage for victims to come forward and participate in this type of investigation,” Zebrowski said in a statement.
“As a member of the Judiciary Committee, the Committee tasked with the impeachment inquiry, I will provide additional information after we meet and chart the process forward after this report. The Assembly impeachment inquiry was tasked with investigating these sexual harassment allegations, as well as additional claims, including those related to nursing home deaths and bridge construction.”
Fellow state Assemblyman Kenny Burgos said in a statement:
“I first want to thank the women who came forward. They displayed a tremendous amount of bravery and courage, and deserve our greatest appreciation.
“Additionally, I thank Attorney General James and her entire team for their service and leadership in standing up for justice. The investigation was fair and apolitical, and their hard and tireless work must be recognized.
“The report by the Attorney General’s office confirms that Governor Cuomo engaged in a disturbing pattern of monstrous and predatory behavior, and broke state and federal law. His actions have no place in politics or anywhere else.
“It has now been determined that the Governor has lost all credibility, and thus, is no longer fit to serve. I call for his immediate resignation. And if he refuses to step down, I am prepared to vote yes on impeachment proceedings.”
In a statement, Assemblymember Ron Kim said that Cuomo is “wholly unfit to serve and must be removed from office immediately” calling for the impeachment process to begin.
“Today’s report from Attorney General Letitia James confirms what we have long suspected: Governor Cuomo used his office to sexually assault, harass, intimidate, and humiliate his employees. He is wholly unfit to serve and must be removed from office immediately. There is no measure left to hide this truth: the governor broke the law so we must hold him accountable,” Kim’s statement reads in part. “We must return to session immediately and begin the impeachment proceedings.”
Meanwhile, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called the finding in the report “gut-wrenching,” adding that Cuomo “is not fit for office.”
“The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience. The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” Heastie’s statement reads in part.
In a brief statement, New York State Sen. James Sanders also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“I am calling on Governor Cuomo to resign following the extensive independent investigation conducted by Attorney General Leticia James and her team of top independent prosecutors that has produced solid evidence that the Governor engaged in sexual misconduct involving members of his staff and others in violation of federal and state law. It is clear that Governor Cuomo cannot do the work of New York State. In the meantime, we cannot waste time. We need a strong, focused leader at the helm, and right now Governor Cuomo is not that leader.”
New York State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, also voiced that Cuomo should step aside, saying that Cuomo “does not deserve to be the governor of New York” following the stunning revelations of the attorney general’s report.
In a statement, Kaminsky said: “On March 12 I said that Governor Cuomo should step aside. Now we know that he must step aside or be removed. These damning findings from Attorney General James, who has done a great job, show quite clearly that the governor must resign—and if he will not, that he should be impeached. Not only has Gov. Cuomo broken the law by committing disturbing and dehumanizing acts against women, he has engaged in retaliation against his accusers, and also abused his power as an employer, boss, and the leader of New York and most powerful person in this state. Andrew Cuomo does not deserve to be the governor of New York.”
New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera called for Cuomo’s impeachment if he does not resign.
“The independent investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James unequivocally delineates the extent of Governor Cuomo’s despicable behavior and chronic sexual harassment of numerous women. It is clear that the Governor and his administration fostered a toxic environment that leveraged power to intimidate those who were berated and harassed,” Rivera’s statement read.
“We greatly value the bravery of those that came forward as well as those that suffered in silence. There is no doubt that the Governor is not fit to represent the State of New York and he must resign immediately. If he refuses to step aside after all of the overwhelming evidence included in this report, the Assembly should move swiftly to the next step of this process and send articles of impeachment to the Senate.”
Meanwhile, another New York State Senator said the governor and members of his staff involved in the coverup of the harassment must resign.
“The report released by Attorney General James finds Governor Cuomo sexually harassed numerous women, which violates state and federal law. He must resign immediately. Those on his staff involved in the unlawful retaliation and coverup of the crimes must also resign,” New York State Sen. Pete Harckham said in a statement.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, “The Governor must resign immediately.”
Aside from Curran, another local democratic county executive, Westchester County’s George Latimer, also called for Cuomo to resign.
“The Attorney General’s findings are clear and compelling. The Governor must resign. The patterns of sexually harassing, intimidating and inappropriate behavior towards women cannot be tolerated,” Latimer said in a statement shortly after the attorney general’s findings were made public.