Governor no more, Andrew Cuomo to step down in 14 days following sexual harassment debacle
Cuomo also still said he didn’t believe he overstepped any boundaries despite 11 women coming out against his actions.
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On Tuesday, Aug. 10, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation from office after a scathing report from the state’s attorney general documented multiple accusations of sexual harassment from women who worked under him.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat, will serve the rest of his term when the resignation becomes effective in 14 days. She will become the state’s first woman governor.
“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,” Hochul wrote on Twitter.
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.
Though Cuomo apologized to his accusers, he still made it clear that he did not believe he stepped over a line that would require his removal from office. Instead, he framed his choice as one necessary to avoid extended arguments and divisiveness that would bring the state’s government to a halt.
In a televised address in which he took no questions, Cuomo said, “the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government.”
“New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way," he said.
In his address, he spoke to his three daughters, wanting them to know that he’s not the kind of person that would “intentionally disrespect” a woman or treat women any differently than the way he’d want to be treated.
"Your dad made mistakes. And he apologized, and he learned from it and that's what life is all about,” Cuomo said.
When he was first hit with sexual harassment claims last year, Cuomo ignored bipartisan demands for resignation and predicted that Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation would exonerate him.
But the report alleged that he had harassed 11 women, most of whom were state employees, and subjected some of them to unwelcome touching and groping. The report also stated that his office retaliated against one of the women who spoke out about how she was treated.
The stream of accusations began in late February when Lindsey Boylan, 36, published an article on Medium, detailing instances of Cuomo kissing her on the lips without warning, and suggesting that they kill time on a flight by playing strip poker.
Less than a week later, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett revealed to the New York Times that Cuomo once asked her intrusive questions about her love and sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men. The conversation left her convinced he “wanted to sleep with” her.
We have the facts. @NYGovCuomo broke federal & state law when he sexually harassed me & other current & former staff. I do not want an apology — I want accountability and an end to victim-blaming. NYS Assembly Speaker @CarlHeastie, it’s time you do the right thing: impeach him.— Charlotte Bennett (@char_bennett) August 3, 2021
On Aug. 10, Cuomo took responsibility for his actions and thanked the women who came forward, but maintained that he had not intended to harass any of his accusers. He claimed that casually kissing people, both men and women is just something that he’s always done, but he never felt that he overstepped any boundaries.
"In my mind, I've never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn't fully appreciate,” he said.
In a series of tweets following the outgoing governor’s resignation, AG James wrote that a “sad chapter” has closed for the state, but it marks an important step towards justice.
“We must continue to build on the progress already made and improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the state,” James wrote.
I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) August 10, 2021
The state Assembly has already begun organizing impeachment proceedings, and local law enforcement officials have announced they will be looking into whether criminal charges are appropriate.