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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.

Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."

What he's saying: Cuomo told reporters at a COVID briefing that giving hugs and kisses is his "usual and customary way of greeting" both men and women, and stressed that he "certainly never ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain."

  • "This is what I want you to know, from me directly, I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately," Cuomo said.
  • "I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the attorney general's report before forming an opinion. Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion."

Background: Three women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate touching, at a time when he was already facing intense scrutiny for his handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

  • The most recent allegation, first reported by the New York Times on Monday, came from a woman who said Cuomo came up to her at a wedding reception in 2019, placed his hands on her cheeks and asked if he could kiss her. The Times story included a photo capturing the moment.
  • "You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people, women, men, children, et cetera," Cuomo said when asked about the photo at the briefing. "However ... if they were offended by it, then it was wrong," he added. "And if they were offended by it, I apologize."

The big picture: Cuomo has faced calls to resign from Republicans and some Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice and a number of New York state lawmakers. Most top Democrats — including President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer — have expressed support for an independent investigation.

Go deeper

Rep. Rice demands Cuomo resign after 3rd woman accuses him of misconduct

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February news conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) on Monday evening called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign, after a third woman accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Driving the news: Anna Ruch, a former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign, told the New York Times Monday that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019.

Mar 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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