New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is defiantly rebuffing calls, including those from within his own party for his resignations, telling them there is “no way” he is resigning just based solely on the recent allegations of sexual harassment lodged against him and insisting that he would not be “distracted” as he is focused on getting the state budget approved before April 1.
Cuomo, however, remained adamantly resisting calls for his resignation in arguing that he was elected by the people and not “by politicians,” and called the premise notion to resign based on the allegations as “anti-democratic.”
“There are some legislators who suggest that I resign because of accusations that are made against me. I was elected by the people of the state, I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo told reporters in a teleconference on Sunday. “The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic and we’ve always done the exact opposite. You know the system is based on due process and the credibility of the allegation. Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy and that’s great, but it’s then the credibility of the allegation.”
The governor made sure to highlight what both New York Senators, Democrat congress members, and the White House have stated, all who have refused to say Cuomo should resign and to let the attorney general conduct the independent investigation before making judgments, a process that could take months to even complete. Cuomo also emphasized that his office has granted and signed off on the probe, but failed to mention that he tried to control the basis on how the investigation should be conducted.
“We have the Attorney General who’s doing an independent review. [Letitia James] is very good, she’s very competent, and that will be due process and then we’ll have the facts. That’s why Sen. Schumer said let the attorney general do her investigation, Sen. Gillibrand said let the attorney general do her investigation, Congressman Jeffries said let the attorney general do her investigation, the White House spokesperson said let the attorney general do the investigation because that’s democracy. So no, there is no way I resign,” Cuomo said.
One of the powerful Democratic leader of the New York State Senate, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins became one of the highest-profile New York officials to finally declare that Cuomo should resign “for the good of the state” after two more accusers came forward over the weekend, making it a total of five who has accused the governor of sexual harassment.
Over the weekend, two new women who worked with the governor came forward. Ana Liss, a former aide of Cuomo told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday night that the governor had made her uncomfortable by asking her questions about her romantic life and kissing her on the hand.
While Cuomo had been apologetic in recent days, he returned back to his old ways of being defensive by striking a defiant tone and singling out two of the five accusations as flatly false. On Sunday, Cuomo disputed the alleged story published Saturday in The Washington Post made about him by Karen Hinton, a former press aide when he was U.S. secretary for housing and urban development during the Clinton administration, saying the accuser is a “political adversary” and her accounts are “not true” as well as noting that the first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, but didn’t mention her name when saying that none of what she claims “didn’t happen.”
“Every woman has a right to come forward. That’s true. But the truth also matters. What she said is not true,” Cuomo said regarding accusations from Hinton, rejecting her accounts as a lie. “She has been a longtime political adversary of mine.”
In a story published Saturday in The Washington Post, Hinton detailed an uncomfortable hotel room interaction she had with Cuomo when the two met in California years ago as they were trying to patch things up after an estrangement. She was no longer an aide to Cuomo at the time, but described the encounter not as sexual harassment but as a “power play” for “manipulation and control.”
Hinton said that as she got up to leave the hotel room, Cuomo gave her a hug that was “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate.”
Following the allegations against Cuomo, now more than 50 New York elected officials from both parties of the state’s legislature have called for the governor to resign or face impeachment.
The governor’s remarks on Sunday afternoon came not long after Stewart-Cousins had informed Cuomo in a phone call that she was about to publicly call for him to step down, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation who spoke to The Floridian on condition of anonymity. Stewart-Cousins, who remained quiet when the first allegation came forward had told Democratic lawmakers ahead of last week’s vote that stripped Cuomo’s emergency power that her standard was that if any more accusations emerged then she would move forward with the loud calls.
Cuomo told reporters that his remarks were directed at “some legislators who suggest that I resign,” adding those seeking his resignation even from his own members of his party are only saying this purely for political reasons.
“I have a news flash for you — There is politics in politics,” Cuomo said while laughing at his own little joke, saying the state’s attorney general and district attorneys should release publicly allegations made towards New York lawmakers those who are calling for his resignation. “They don’t override the people’s will. They don’t override elections. They don’t get to hear an allegation and make a determination on the allegation.”
Stewart-Cousins fired back, releasing a statement not long after Cuomo concluded his news conference, citing the dual allegations of sexual harassment she calls as “toxic work environment,” as well as the governor’s handling of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic is a “daily distraction.”
“We need to govern without daily distraction,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government. We have allegations of sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the COVID-19 nursing home data, and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project. New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health, and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
On Friday, the state’s Democratic-dominated Legislature in both chambers voted to curtail the sweeping emergency power it granted Cuomo at the start of the pandemic last spring. The governor said he will sign the measure limiting his own powers and has ten days to do so. Lawmakers will now have the ability to review and comment on any changes to pandemic guidance, including the governor’s recent decision he announced at the same time addressing the allegations with reporters of increasing restaurant capacity in the state outside of New York City to 75 percent. New York City restaurant capacity will continue to remain at 35 percent.