President Joe Biden called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign Tuesday after an explosive report concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women.
“I think he should resign,” Biden said at a press conference. He said he had not spoken to Cuomo ahead of calling for him to resign.
New York state Attorney General Letitia James released a 165-page report on Cuomo Tuesday, the work an independent investigation into harassment claims.
James said the investigation found that Cuomo “sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
Investigators also concluded that Cuomo and his senior team retaliated against one accuser.
Shortly after Biden’s remarks, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the governor had “lost the confidence” of the legislative body’s Democrats, and “can no longer remain in office.” Potential impeachment proceedings against Cuomo would begin in the state assembly.
Cuomo was defiant Tuesday. He recorded a statement ― allowing for no questions from reporters ― making clear he intends to stay in office and fight the allegations, which he denied. He portrayed himself as a feminist hero and a champion of women, claiming that his concern and caring nature were just misunderstood.
Long seen as one of the most powerful governors and figures in the Democratic Party, Cuomo is known as a combative bully who has a grip on state politics and who took on former President Donald Trump. He received acclaim for his response to the coronavirus pandemic ― and even prematurely wrote a book about his supposed triumph. But his bullying caught up to him, and he has had few defenders as his scandals have built up.
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo has had to beat back outrage that his administration hid the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
In March, Biden said he believed Cuomo should resign if the harassment allegations against him were confirmed to be true.
“I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too,” Biden added at the time.
Last year, The New York Times said Biden and Cuomo had cultivated “a personal friendship that has grown into a crucial political alliance,” sharing a long history in the Democratic Party and a reputation for more moderate politics.
Nine women accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments earlier this year, sparking the investigation. There are also two new allegations in the attorney general’s report, including one from a state trooper who was assigned to protect the governor. She told investigators that the governor inappropriately touched her and made “sexually suggestive and gender-based comments.”
Another woman alleged that Cuomo groped her under her blouse last year at the governor’s mansion.
James hired two outside lawyers to run the investigation. They spent months interviewing his accusers and staff members, speaking with 179 people in total. They also interviewed the governor himself under oath for 11 hours.
James said Tuesday that while Cuomo’s behavior violated state and federal law, the report did not reach a conclusion on whether Cuomo’s conduct should lead to criminal prosecution.
Cuomo may face impeachment in the state Legislature, with lawmakers already drawing up articles and calling for proceedings to begin.
Multiple high-profile lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on Cuomo to step down on Tuesday.