President Biden called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign following the release of a damning report that found that the governor sexually harassed multiple women over a seven-year period, becoming the top Democrat to join the growing list amongst his party in calling on New York’s powerful three-term governor to step aside.
Following his remarks about COVID-19 vaccination efforts Tuesday afternoon, Biden was asked whether he stood by remarks he made in March during an interview where he said that Cuomo should step down if the independent investigation found the sexual allegation credible. At first, Biden held off on calling for Cuomo’s resignation after the allegations of sexual misconduct began to emerge, but noted if the claims against the governor were confirmed, it could “very well” result in a “criminal prosecution.”
“I stand by that statement, yes,” Biden responded Tuesday afternoon after being asked if he believes that Cuomo should resign and if he stood by his comments.
When pressed if Cuomo should be impeached if he doesn’t step down, Biden declined to weigh in— or if the governor should face criminal charges. Biden also confirmed that he hadn’t spoken to his longtime Democratic allies.
“Let’s take one thing at a time here. I think he should resign. I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don’t know that for a fact. I have not read all that data,” Biden said.
Biden was also asked if he condoned Cuomo of using old photos of him to highlight instances of Biden hugging other officials and supporters as part of the governor’s defense.
“Look, I’m not going to flyspeck this. I’m sure there were some embraces that are totally innocent. But apparently, the Attorney General decided there were things that weren’t,” Biden replied.
New York Attorney General Letitia James released a damning report Tuesday, detailing Cuomo’s alleged harassment of 11 women, engaging in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” and made “numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work” culture “filled with fear and intimidation.” The findings in the 186-page report are the results of a five-month independent investigation following allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo.
Biden became the highest Democrat amongst the scores of lawmakers from his party in calling for Cuomo to step down in light of James’s findings. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who previously stopped short in calling for Cuomo to step down back in March, issued a brief statement Tuesday urging him to now resign.
“Under Attorney General Letitia James, a comprehensive and independent investigation into the allegations against Governor Cuomo has been completed. As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand renewed their March calls for Cuomo to resign, saying the findings from the AG investigation report were “profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable.”
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate, and completely unacceptable,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement. “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
All 27 New York Congressional delegates have now called on Cuomo to step down after Reps. Tom Suozzi and Gregory Meeks and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries spoke up for the first time, saying “the time is right” following the AG report. Most of the 19 Congressional Democrats previously called for Cuomo to resign in March, but Jeffries, Meeks, and Suozzi were the only three New York House Democrats who did not.
“The office of Attorney General [Leticia] James conducted a complete, thorough, and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law,” the three New York Congressmembers said in a joint statement. “We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul finally spoke up in breaking with Cuomo, condemned the “repulsive & unlawful” behavior reported from the governor, but refrained from calling for resignation, citing her position as next in line for the governorship if he were to step down.
A group of Democratic governors joined a slew of New York and national lawmakers and outside organizations in calling on the beleaguered New York governor to resign.
“We are appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign from office,” Govs. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, and Dan McKee of Rhode Island said in a joint statement.
Despite the barrage of prominent Democrats turning on Cuomo in calling for him to resign and the AG report, the New York governor, however, shows no sign of going quietly. In a pre-recorded video statement, Cuomo remained defiant in continuing to deny any wrongdoings by declaring that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
As of Tuesday evening, Vice President Kamala Harris has yet to explicitly weigh in on the damning AG report nor called for Cuomo’s resignation — making her the only high-profile national Democrat in not to do so. During the first wave of calls for the embattled governor to resign in March that caused little to no effect, Harris refused to personally condemn Cuomo on the allegations, despite being an outspoken critic in slamming both Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Democratic Sen. Al Franken when faced with similar allegations in the past.