Aug 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Andrew Cuomo refuses to resign: "I never touched anyone inappropriately"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he will not resign from his post, despite an independent investigation finding that he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law.

Why it matters: Cuomo had previously urged those calling for his resignation — including nearly every prominent New York Democrat — to wait for the results of the investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The findings were damning, but Cuomo said he is not going anywhere.

What they're saying: "My attorney, who is a non-political former federal prosecutor, has done a response to each allegation, and the facts are much different than what has been portrayed," Cuomo said in a recorded video statement.

  • "First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I've lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that's not who I have ever been," he said.
  • Cuomo addressed one specific allegation from his former aide Charlotte Bennett, admitting that he "did ask her questions I don't normally ask people" — including about her dating life. He said he was "truly and deeply sorry" for bringing his personal life into the workplace, but claimed that she ascribed motives he never had, and "heard things I just didn't say."
  • Responding to another allegation from a woman who alleged that Cuomo groped her in his home office, the governor said that this "never happened." Cuomo said other rebuttals to the report would be available on his website.

How we got here: Beginning in December, 11 women accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, including unwanted kissing, groping, invites to play strip poker and unsolicited comments about their sex lives. A majority of the women had worked with or for the governor.

  • Cuomo in early March apologized for if he made any women "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and that he would not resign.

Cuomo ultimately asked New York Attorney General James to oversee an independent investigation into the issue.

  • James said Tuesday that the investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including employees in his office, in violation of state and federal law.
  • "Specifically, the investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women," James said.
  • Cuomo and his staff also took steps to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, and fostered a "toxic" workplace that enabled sexual harassment to occur, the report found.

The big picture: Cuomo faced mounting calls to resign from within his own party even before the sexual misconduct investigation had concluded.

  • Those calls included more than two-thirds of congressional Democrats from New York and a majority of the New York State Assembly, which has the power to impeach the governor.
  • New York State Assembly Democrats also launched their own impeachment investigation, and an allegation of groping by one woman has been referred to Albany police.
  • President Biden had resisted calling for Cuomo to resign, but said in March that he should step down — and could even be prosecuted — if the investigation corroborated the women's allegations.
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