The pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign from office reached a higher level of intensity Friday, as nearly all of New York’s Congressional delegation called on the governor to leave office after allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.
Friday evening, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also called for Cuomo to resign. But the Democrat remained defiant earlier in the day, saying he won’t bow to “cancel culture,” and casting doubts on the motives of his now six accusers, as well as the elected officials who are asking him to leave.
In addition to the members of Congress, all of the 43 Democratic state senators have called for the governor’s resignation, as well as dozens of Assembly Democrats. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has authorized the Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation.
But Cuomo, in a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, says he still has no intention of leaving. He portrayed himself as a victim of “cancel culture.”
“People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth,” Cuomo said. “I’m not going to resign.”
Cuomo also cast doubt on his accusers’ intentions, saying “there are often many motivations for making an allegation.” And he condemned the more than six dozen Democratic politicians who have called on him to leave.
Friday evening, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand issued a joint statement.
“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership," the senators said. "We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Later on Friday evening, Democratic State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli tweeted that Cuomo should resign.
"These allegations are extremely disturbing and are impairing Governor Cuomo’s ability to lead, as our state struggles through a crisis and must make critical budget decisions," DiNapoli said. "It is time for him to step down."
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact, but yet form a conclusion and an opinion, are in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” Cuomo said earlier in the day. “The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance. That, my friends, is politics at its worst.”
The governor expanded on a denial that he first made on February 28, when he said he did not sexually harass anyone. Since then, the Albany Times Union reported that a female aide is accusing the governor of aggressively groping her after she was summoned to the executive mansion.
“I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone,” Cuomo said. “And I never would.”
Cuomo says people need to withhold judgement until they have heard all the facts. He says he’s going to cooperate with the Assembly’s impeachment investigation, as well as an ongoing probe by the state’s Attorney General. But Cuomo says he’s also going to keep working, negotiating with the legislature on a budget that’s due in two weeks, and continuing the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“That is my job,” Cuomo said. “That’s why I was elected. And that is exactly what I am going to focus on.”
The governor says he plans to work with lawmakers over the weekend on a measure to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana, another indication that he does not plan to resign anytime soon.
Meanwhile, the state’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul made a public appearance, virtually, at Catholic Health in Buffalo, where she received a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Hochul said she wants to convey that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe, and just as good an option as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
“I’m aware that in certain communities there’s been a hesitation about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine,” Hochul said. “People are talking about this on social media. People are spreading rumors, lies.”
Hochul says she has “100% confidence” in all three of the vaccines.
Hochul, at age 62, recently became eligible to receive the vaccine. She says she will now soon be able to visit with her father, who lives in Florida and who she has not seen in a year.
Hochul, as in prior appearances that she’s made in recent days, did not mention Cuomo’s name. The event was closed to the media, and she did answer any questions on the sexual harassment scandal or the nursing home controversy surrounding the governor.