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Cuomo Blames 'Cancel Culture' for Mounting Resignation Calls

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May 2020
Credit: Gov. Cuomo's Office

Cuomo Responds to Mounting Calls for His Resignation

Calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign grew again Friday evening, with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and the majority of the state’s congressional delegation joining the charge for Cuomo to step down.

Cuomo, in a call with reporters earlier in the day, said he would not resign, citing an ongoing investigation into his conduct by the State Attorney General’s Office.

"I respect any elected official's right to take a position on anything," Cuomo said of the calls for him to resign. "Let the review proceed. I'm not going to resign."

Cuomo made those remarks before Schumer and Gillibrand called for his resignation, though it's unclear if the development will change his mind.

The pair issued a statement calling for his resignation Friday evening after nearly every member of Congress from New York had done the same hours before.

"Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign," Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement.

Cuomo was accused, earlier this week, of inviting a female aide to the Executive Mansion, where the woman said he groped her beneath her shirt while the two were alone. According to the Albany Times Union, she was invited there under the guise of a work-related matter.

Cuomo addressed that specific allegation on the call with reporters Friday, saying the claim “is not true.” He’s also denied touching any women inappropriately.

"I've not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period,” Cuomo said.

The story, published Tuesday, appears to have been the tipping point for Democrats in Congress, who also released a coordinated set of statements Friday calling for Cuomo’s resignation.

They were Jerry Nadler, Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman, Nydia Velazquez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Grace Meng, Paul Tonko, Brian Higgins, Antonio Delgado, Joe Morelle, Gregory Meeks, and Sean Patrick Maloney.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from Long Island, had already called for Cuomo’s resignation, and at least five of the state’s seven Republican members of Congress also want to see him step down.

Nadler’s call for Cuomo’s resignation was considered particularly significant, given that he chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

Few lawmakers have stood by Cuomo, at least publicly, through the controversies. Cuomo said Friday that he wasn’t bothered by his dwindling list of allies.

"Politicians take positions for all sorts of reasons, including for political expediency and bowing to pressure,” Cuomo said. “But people know the difference between playing politics, bowing to ‘cancel culture’ and the truth.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that President Joe Biden, as of now, doesn’t support Cuomo’s resignation as of now, but does favor an ongoing investigation into the sexual harassment claims by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

“The president believes that every woman who’s come forward … deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect, and should be able to tell her story,” Psaki said.

“There also is an independent investigation that is ongoing, of course in the state with subpoena power overseen by the attorney general, and he certainly supports that moving forward.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James began her investigation into the claims this week with appointments of independent, non political attorneys who will lead the probe. A timeline of that inquiry is unclear.

The State Assembly, meanwhile, is starting its own impeachment investigation into Cuomo. 

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, confirmed Thursday that the Judiciary Committee will lead the probe, and be granted wide-ranging subpoena powers. Democrats in the Assembly are currently split on whether Cuomo should resign or ride out the investigations.

In the State Senate, a handful of Democrats called on Cuomo Friday to step down while the probes continue, which could allow him to re-ascend to the governorship if he’s cleared of wrongdoing. Some legal experts have said that may not be the case, but the law has never been used.

Those Democrats include Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan, Kevin Thomas, John Brooks and Jim Gaughran, and Pete Harckham. Sen. Zellnor Myrie, meanwhile, became the latest Democrat in the Senate to call for Cuomo’s resignation.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester, had already called for Cuomo’s resignation Sunday. Most Democrats in the chamber have now called on Cuomo to give up his post in one way or another.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also a Democrat, called for Cuomo's resignation Friday evening as well. With Schumer and Gillibrand, he's the third statewide elected official to do so.

"These allegations are extremely disturbing and are impairing Governor Cuomo’s ability to lead, as our state struggles through a crisis and must make critical budget decisions," DiNapoli said. "It is time for him to step down."