What to Know
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s grip on power appears increasingly threatened as a majority of state legislators call for his resignation and police said they stood ready to investigate a groping allegation
- Cuomo said he never touched anyone inappropriately. A lawyer for the governor said she reported the allegation to police after the woman involved declined to do so herself
- At least 140 members of the state Assembly and Senate have said publicly they believe Cuomo can no longer govern and should quit office now
Making his second public statement of the week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday denied any claims of wrongdoing, refused to resign in the face of "cancel culture" and questioned the motivations of the women who have accused the three-term governor of sexual harassment while making a point to call the politicians demanding his resignation "dangerous and reckless."
Some of those resignation calls have come from Democrats in Congress, who on Friday appeared to coordinate their efforts to address the onslaught of allegations circling their state's governor. In a surprise move, at least a dozen House Democrats from New York released statements within the morning calling for Cuomo to step down.
Representatives Jerry Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Jamaal Bowman, Adriano Espaillat, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Mondaire Jones, Grace Meng, Anthony Delgado, Brian Higgins, Sean Maloney and Paul Tonko joined Rep. Kathleen Rice, who had previously made the call for Cuomo's resignation. Rep. Tom Suozzi, Joseph Morelle, Gregory Meeks and Ritchie Torres joined their colleagues as well.
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Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he supported thorough and complete investigations by the state attorney general's office "before we reach judgment about his liability for any alleged criminal act."
"But there is a difference between formal investigations that may end in charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership," Nadler added.
By Friday evening, a joint statement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kristen Gillibrand announced their call for the governor's resignation, leaving few Democrats left who haven't publicly called for Cuomo to step down.
Hours later Cuomo repeated his refusal to step down, insisting that New York voters know the difference between "bowing to cancel culture and the truth." The governor maintained his innocence in the face of growing allegations; New York magazine reported two new accusations Friday, including a young woman who Cuomo allegedly grabbed at a fundraiser, and a reporter who alleges Cuomo frequently put his hands on her.
"I'm not going to argue this issue in the press, that is not how it is done," he said before taking aim at those calling for his removal. "Politicians who don't know a single fact but form a conclusion and an opinion are in my opinion reckless and dangerous."
"I won't speculate about people's possible motives but I can tell you, as a former attorney general who's gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation," he added.
Lawmakers who had previously side-stepped an outright call for resignation and instead championed the independent investigation by the state's attorney general say they have heard enough, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"The governor and his team have been trying to cover up the truth. We've gotten report after report of purposeful efforts to cover up the facts the public deserves," de Blasio said Friday. "The governor must resign, he can no longer do the job."
The firestorm around the Democrat grew a day after the Times Union of Albany reported that an unidentified aide had claimed Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her at his official residence late last year.
The woman hasn't filed a criminal complaint, but a lawyer for the governor said Thursday that the state had reported the allegation to the Albany Police Department after the woman involved declined to do so herself.
“In this case the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information," said Beth Garvey, the governor’s acting counsel.
An Albany Police Department spokesperson, Steve Smith, didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press, but told The New York Times police had reached out to a representative for the woman.
The possible involvement of police comes as more lawmakers called on Cuomo to resign over alleged misconduct with women and allegations that his administration concealed how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19.
At least 140 members of the state Assembly and Senate have said publicly they believe Cuomo should quit office or step aide immediately. The count includes 77 Democrats and 63 Republicans.
As of Friday morning, there were enough legislators calling for Cuomo's resignation to also impeach and convict him, should all of those calling for the governor's resignation also be willing to oust him in a trial.
The top Democrat in the state Assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie, on Thursday backed a plan for its judiciary committee to launch an impeachment investigation.
The committee can interview witnesses and subpoena documents and its inquiry could be wide-ranging: from alleged sexual misconduct to COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. It won't interfere with a separate inquiry of sexual harassment allegations being conducted by state Attorney General Letitia James, according to Heastie and James.
“The legislature needs to determine for itself what the facts are," a member of the committee, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, said. “For the people who want immediate impeachment, I think we say please be patient. The process is slow. This could be the next step."
In New York, the Assembly is the legislative house that could move to impeach Cuomo, who faces multiple allegations that he made the workplace an uncomfortable place for young women with sexually suggestive remarks and behavior, including unwanted touching and a kiss. One aide claimed the governor's aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
“All of us are extremely disappointed," Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, a Democrat representing Orange and Sullivan counties, told The Associated Press. “I think there's no room in the world right now for that kind of behavior. He should have known better."
Gunther on Thursday became the ninth Assembly Democrat saying they'd vote for impeachment, alongside at least 37 Republicans.
Cuomo's thin support in the state Senate dwindled further after the Long Island Senate Majority called on the governor to step aside until the attorney general's investigation could be completed. They asked for Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Hochul to takeover until the investigation concludes.
A group of 59 Democrats, including 19 senators and 40 Assembly members, said in a letter Thursday that it's time for Cuomo to go.
“In light of the governor's admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need,” the letter said. “It is time for Gov. Cuomo to resign.”
Cuomo has repeatedly said he won’t resign and urged the public to await the outcome of the attorney general's investigation.
Asked for comment Thursday, Cuomo’s office referred reporters to previous statements in which the governor denied inappropriately touching anyone, but apologized for some comments he made to female staffers. He's said he was trying to engage in playful banter and didn't intend to make people uncomfortable.
In the newest allegation against Cuomo, the Times Union of Albany reported that the governor had summoned the aide to his Albany mansion, saying he needed help with his cellphone. After she arrived, Cuomo closed the door, reached under her shirt and fondled her, the newspaper reported.
The newspaper’s reporting was based on an unidentified source with knowledge of the woman’s accusation, who said she first told the story to someone on Cuomo's staff in recent days. The newspaper hadn't spoken to the woman and didn't identify her.
“I have never done anything like this,” Cuomo said through a spokesperson Wednesday evening.
According to the Times Union account, one of the woman's supervisors told an attorney in the governor's office about her account Monday. The report to Albany police was made Wednesday, after the newspaper had posted its story.
Amid the newest resignation calls and Cuomo's latest public denial, two new allegations were published in New York magazine, bringing the total number of women to accuse the governor of inappropriate and harassing misconduct to eight.
A young woman alleged Cuomo grabbed her at a 2016 fundraiser before inviting her to take a position within his office and a reporter detailed her experience at a 2014 holiday party at the executive mansion where she alleges Cuomo frequently put his hands on her, New York magazine reported.
Federal investigators are also scrutinizing about how many nursing home residents have died of COVID-19. The governor and his aides argued for months that it couldn't release full figures on deaths because it had yet to verify the data.
The state Assembly has 150 members. It could convene an impeachment trial against Cuomo with a simple majority vote. The state Senate, which would join with members of the state's top appeals court to hold an impeachment trial, has 63 members.