During a press conference today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation as governor. The announcement comes exactly one week after state Attorney General Letitia James announced her office’s devastating findings that Cuomo had created a “hostile work environment” by sexually harassing – groping, hugging, kissing – almost a dozen women.
“I’m a New Yorker, born and bred,” Cuomo, 63, said from his Manhattan office. “I’m a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated, I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society,” he said.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside. This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today, government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death,” he added.
Cuomo concluded: “New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”
The resignation becomes effective in two weeks.
The months-long investigation began after former staffers spoke out against the Democratic governor earlier this year. After AG James released the bombshell findings of a 168-page independent probe, the Governor defiantly denied the accusations. “First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said. “I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view and that is just not who I am.”
Even when the idea of impeachment was presented, Cuomo refused to go. However, others weighed in. Both President Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who were closely aligned politically with the governor, called on him to step down. More than two thirds of New York state senators called on Cuomo to resign as well.
Cuomo’s decision avoids the potential embarrassment of becoming the second New York governor in history to be impeached.
District attorneys in Manhattan and Nassau counties announced Cuomo is still facing the possibility of misdemeanor charges in Albany for allegedly groping executive assistant Brittany Commisso during a work visit.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, 62, will assume the role as governor in 14 days – becoming the first female governor to lead the state – New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins would become New York’s lieutenant governor. Hochul released a statement in a tweet:
“It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” she wrote. “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.”