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Cuomo Resigns, Will Leave Office August 24

 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is his resignation message Aug. 10, 2021.
WAMC screenshot
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is his resignation message Aug. 10, 2021.

Saying that he did not want to face weeks and months of political and legal fighting over multiple scandals including the sexual harassment of 11 women, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced that he is resigning from office effective August 24th.

Cuomo, facing nearly certain impeachment by the state assembly, after a report by the state’s attorney general found he broke state and federal laws by sexually harassing 11 women, says he will leave office after a two-week transition.

“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now, is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” the Democrat said. “And therefore that’s what I’ll do. Because I work for you. And doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because as we say, it’s not about me, it’s about we. Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant [of COVID-19] and so should you be. But she can come up to speed quickly and my resignation will be effective in 14 days.”

The governor also apologized to the 11 women in the report, saying that believes now that he truly offended them, and that he is deeply sorry. Cuomo says he knows now that he crossed the line, but says he did understand what that line was, blaming cultural and generational differences.

“I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints,” said Cuomo. “It’s not easy to step forward, but you did an important service. And you taught me and you taught others an important lesson. Personal boundaries must be expanded and must be protected. I accept full responsibility.”

The governor continues to deny that he sexually harassed anyone, calling the Attorney General’s report “false.”

The announcement comes one day after the Assembly set out a schedule to move toward articles of impeachment, and two days after his top aide Melissa DeRosa also resigned, saying the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.

The governor also for the first time addressed the report’s conclusion that he sexually harassed a state trooper on his security detail by inappropriately touching her on at least two occasions in a way that she said “violated” her personal space. The governor says he often affectionately touches troopers, both male and female with pats on the back and other gestures.

“I often will give them a grip of the arm, a pat on the face, a touch on the stomach, a slap on the back,” Cuomo said. “It’s my way of saying ‘I see you, I appreciate you, and I thank you.’”

The governor’s exit does not mean that his political and potential legal troubles are over. The Albany County Sherriff is investigating allegations that he sexually assaulted staffer Brittany Commisso, and at least four district attorneys are also looking at potential charges.

He also faces investigations into a $5 million book deal, where it’s alleged that he used staff to help him write and edit the memoir. There’s also an ongoing federal investigation into his handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-10 pandemic.

Cuomo’s exit means the state will have its first woman governor. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native and former congresswoman, takes over as chief executive of the state August 24.

"I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor."