Several New York lawmakers, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), have released statements urging Cuomo to step down, following an investigation from the New York state attorney general’s office that found the governor sexually harassed at least 11 women.
“The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers and created a hostile work environment,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement released Tuesday afternoon.
“No elected official is above the law,” Schumer and Gillibrand added. “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, along with several other prominent New York Democrats, called for Cuomo to resign in March when women first came out with accusations of sexual harassment against the governor. Now, many are doubling down after the attorney general’s investigation corroborated Cuomo’s misconduct.
Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York City mayor, said in a statement that it’s “the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign.”
“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.”
Various state lawmakers also called for Cuomo’s resignation in light of the investigation’s findings.
New York state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) said that “the Governor must resign for the good of the state.” New York state Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, an outspoken critic of Cuomo, said she has already drafted articles of impeachment.
“It took 179 witnesses and a statewide investigation by the Attorney General to hold one powerful man accountable,” Niou told reporter Eoin Higgins. “Tell me again that New York doesn’t have a power problem.”
U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) said he believes Cuomo’s behavior is “disqualifying,” adding that “today is a very, very sad day in the history of our state. In order to move forward, we need to have new leadership.”
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) went so far as to call for Cuomo’s arrest, adding that President Joe Biden must immediately call for the governor’s resignation.
“No one is above the law and today justice must be served,” Stefanik said Tuesday. “In December, I was the first federal official to publicly call for an independent investigation into Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment, abuse, and assault ... The media and Democrats smeared me and closed ranks to protect Cuomo, a shameful chapter in New York history. All of them including his staff must be held to account. These brave women deserve swift and definitive justice.”
Other New York lawmakers ― including U.S. Reps. Tom Suozzi, Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks, all Democrats ― have also urged Cuomo to step down in light of the state attorney general’s findings.
In March, Biden said Cuomo should resign if the sexual harassment allegations against the governor were confirmed. Biden stood by his initial comments during a Tuesday press conference. “I stand by that statement,” Biden said. “I think that he should resign.”
New York state Attorney General Letitia James announced her office’s findings in a Tuesday news conference. She said 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.”
James’ office spoke with 179 people for the investigation and reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence, including emails, texts, photos and audio files. The evidence painted a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” that Cuomo sexually harassed female employees, many of whom were young women, James said.
Cuomo denied all accusations of sexual harassment in a bizarre press conference on Tuesday. The governor blamed the findings on biased reporting, and said the investigation “sought to unfairly characterize and weaponize everyday actions” that he’s had with those accusing him of harassment.
A handful of women’s organizations, including UltraViolet, Me Too and the National Women’s Law Center, released statements urging Cuomo to step down. The NWLC criticized Cuomo for his press conference, accusing him of taking no responsibility for his alleged actions.
“Governor Cuomo’s insulting defense of his actions will also sound familiar to countless survivors who have had their legitimacy questioned and their pain challenged by the very people who inflicted that pain,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the president and CEO of NWLC.
“No individual should be exempt from consequences, especially not those who rely on their profile or powerful position to avoid accountability,” she went on. “Justice for survivors includes accountability, and that applies here as well: Cuomo must resign ― or be removed from office ― immediately.”
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) was a New York state Assembly member.