It appears the Andrew Cuomo saga is coming to an end. The embattled New York governor announced on Tuesday (Aug. 10) he was resigning from his position amid allegations of sexual harassment. This comes one week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report detailing the accusations of 11 women who claimed the governor behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with them.
Cuomo Gives Defiant Resignation Speech
During a press briefing, the governor attempted to explain away the behavior of which he has been accused and claimed he is stepping down to prevent his sex scandal from affecting the state’s government. He said:
“And I think that given the circumstances the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government, and therefore that is what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you.”
He noted the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it framed his decision as a deadly serious matter. The kerfuffle over the allegations would distract the state from managing health issues. “It is a matter of life and death, government operations, and wasting energy on distraction is the last thing government should be,” the governor said. “I cannot be the cause. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”
Cuomo declared his resignation would be effective in 14 days and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will finish out the rest of his term.
While seeming to take responsibility, he also maintained he was unaware that his actions would offend the women with whom he interacted. Cuomo stated that he did not recall an incident chronicled in the attorney general’s report in which he inappropriately placed his hand on the back of an accuser and said, “Hey you.” However, he did say he wanted “to personally apologize to her and her family.”
The governor also repeated his contention that he did not believe he knowingly did anything wrong. “In my mind, I have never crossed the line with everyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” he insisted, explaining that he is often physically affectionate with both men and women.
But later in his speech, Cuomo seemed to imply that the furor over his alleged actions was not due to his behavior but a political hit job. “My instinct is to fight through this controversy, because I truly believe it is politically motivated,” he asserted.
Cuomo’s announcement comes as a significant number of high-profile Democratic politicians – including President Joe Biden – have demanded that he step down. Up until this point, the governor remained defiant, denying the accusations and claiming he would never resign. However, with the looming threat of impeachment, it appears Cuomo has seen the writing on the wall. During his speech, he acknowledged that he would likely be unable to fend off an attempt to remove him from office.
Now that Cuomo’s political career is nearing its conclusion, what happens now? Soon-to-be Gov. Hochul will lead the state for the rest of Cuomo’s term, which ends in 2022. But will she also run to occupy the seat for a full term or will another upstart manage to pick up the position?
Another relevant question is whether Cuomo’s eventual successor will pursue a progressive agenda, or will New Yorkers favor a more moderate candidate? The victory of Eric Adams, who ran a distinctly law-and-order campaign during New York City’s Democratic primaries, seems to suggest that residents of the state might be open to pulling back from the government’s leftward lurch. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.