Congress

Pelosi Among Top Democrats Calling for NY Gov. Cuomo's Resignation

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  • New York Attorney General Letitia James released findings Tuesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, violating state and federal law.
  • News of the findings landed like a grenade in Albany and in Washington, where the Democratic governor has earned a reputation as a bare-knuckle political brawler.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats such as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Cuomo to resign.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign on Tuesday, following the release of a bombshell report alleging that the governor sexually harassed 11 women.

Pelosi expressed her belief that Cuomo should resign, a shift from the spring when she declined to call on the governor to step down from office.

"Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign," Pelosi said in a statement. 

President Joe Biden also called on Cuomo to step down. "He should resign," Biden told reporters at the White House.

Asked whether Cuomo should be removed from office if he refuses to resign, Biden said, "I understand the state legislature may decide to impeach, I do not know that for a fact."

Shortly after Biden's response, New York State House Speaker Carl Heastie (D) announced the launch of an impeachment inquiry.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, issued a joint statement calling the allegations against Cuomo "profoundly disturbing" and demanding his resignation.

"Today's report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so," the senators said.

"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," Schumer and Gillibrand said. The senators had originally called for Cuomo's resignation back in March.

Gillibrand on Tuesday called the report "very serious and damning."

"My heart goes out to the women who have come forward ... and I thank them for their courage," she told reporters in the Capitol.

Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Governor Dan McKee of Rhode Island, Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania released a joint statement asking Cuomo to resign: "We are appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign from office."

Three Democratic congressmen from New York, Reps. Tom Suozzi, Gregory Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries, none of whom had previously called on Cuomo to step down, did so on Tuesday.

"The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign," the lawmakers said in a statement.

Jeffries is the House Democratic Caucus chairman, the fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House's message to Cuomo's accusers is that all women who "have lived through this type of experience ... deserve to be treated with respect and dignity."

"I don't know that anyone could have watched [James' press conference] this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent — I know I certainly did," said Psaki.

Heastie, the state House Speaker, said the report made it impossible for Cuomo to continue to lead the state.

"It is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office," Heastie said in a statement.

"We will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible." 

U.S. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) looks up after reading a statement calling for the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 3, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
U.S. Senate Majority Chuck Schumer (D-NY) looks up after reading a statement calling for the resignation of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 3, 2021.

The report is the product of a monthslong probe by independent investigators working for state Attorney General Letitia James' office. It concluded that Cuomo "sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law," James said at a press conference.

A somber but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of those allegations later Tuesday and said that other examples of his alleged misconduct had been mischaracterized or misinterpreted.

News of the report's findings landed like a grenade in Albany and in Washington, where the powerful Democratic governor has earned a reputation as a bare-knuckle political brawler.

The 165-page report also said that Cuomo's office was riddled with fear and intimidation and was a hostile work environment for many staffers. The women Cuomo harassed included members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a state trooper, the report found.

"The Governor must resign for the good of the state," said Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic majority leader of the New York State Senate. "Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the "abhorrent behavior" outlined in the report disqualifies Cuomo from remaining in office, renewing his call for the governor to resign or be impeached.

"My first thoughts are with the women who were subject to this abhorrent behavior, and their bravery in stepping forward to share their stories," de Blasio said in a statement. "The Attorney General's detailed and thorough report substantiates many disturbing instances of severe misconduct. Andrew Cuomo committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, and intimidated a whistleblower. It is disqualifying."

One of the women allegedly sexually harassed by Cuomo was a New York state trooper.

Thomas H. Mungeer, president of the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association, said he was "outraged and disgusted that one of my members, who was tasked with guarding the governor and ensuring his safety, could not enjoy the same sense of security in her work environment that he was provided."

"The NYSTPBA also applauds the bravery of our member, who when called upon during this investigation was truthful and had the courage to share her experiences," said Mungeer.

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