Calls Grow for Cuomo's Resignation or Impeachment
More Democrats called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Wednesday night after a report from the Albany Times Union alleged that the three-term governor had invited an aide to the executive mansion in Albany, and groped her beneath her blouse.
Cuomo, in a statement to the newspaper, denied the claims, and said he’d “never done anything like this,” but still called the woman’s allegations “gut-wrenching.”
The report prompted a handful of statements from Democrats in both the State Senate and Assembly for Cuomo’s resignation, or for impeachment proceedings to begin. Neither option is likely at the moment, but for different reasons.
Cuomo has repeatedly said over the past week that he’s not planning to resign from office amidst the allegations, which are currently under investigation by a pair of independent, nonpolitical lawyers chosen by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Democrats, who lead both chambers of the state Legislature, don’t yet have the votes to support impeachment, with most members either declining to take a public position on the allegations, or in favor of waiting for the results of the attorney general’s probe.
Four Democrats in the State Senate — Sen. John Mannion, Sen. Andrew Gounardes, Sen. Shelley Mayer, and Sen. Michelle Hinchey — became the latest set of lawmakers in the upper chamber to call for Cuomo’s resignation.
“The ability of the Governor and his aides to lead New York is compromised beyond repair. It’s time for them to do the right thing and step aside for the sake of all New Yorkers,” said Mannion, a first-term Democrat from the Syracuse area.
Mannion said, like other lawmakers, that the attorney general’s probe should continue, regardless of whether Cuomo leaves office or not.
Hinchey took the same position in a statement Wednesday evening, saying the attorney general’s investigation would be integral to changing the pervasive culture of sexual harassment in state government.
She also cited the Cuomo administration’s decision to withhold data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes from lawmakers for several months, despite having that information on hand.
“In light of these allegations, coupled with the deliberate mishandling and withholding of information, I believe it is in the best interest of the people of New York for the Governor to resign,” Hinchey said.
Some Democrats, including Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, have called on their colleagues to trust the investigation from the attorney general, the first woman elected to the job, and allow it to finish before pressing for immediate action.
Gounardes, who helped lead the charge for strengthening the state’s laws on sexual harassment two years ago, said the six women who’ve alleged harassment from Cuomo “are more than enough to say the Governor is not fit to hold office.”
“New Yorkers deserve honest, transparent, and accountable leadership,” Gounardes said. “And that begins with Governor Cuomo putting the state first and resigning.”
Mayer called the latest allegations “the last straw,” and also pointed to reports about the structural integrity of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge, as another cause for Cuomo’s resignation.
“I do not see how the State of New York can be led during this crisis by this Governor,” Mayer said. “The governor’s actions have undermined his ability to lead, and he must resign.”
In the Assembly, a few lawmakers also joined the calls for Cuomo to either step aside or be removed by the Legislature.
Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, a first-term Democrat, tweeted that she would support Cuomo’s impeachment. Less than a dozen Democrats in the chamber have taken the same position, making it unlikely to move forward as of now.
“I’ve had enough,” Gonzalez-Rojas said. “Cuomo must be impeached.”
Assemblymember John McDonald, a Democrat from the Albany area, took a different route, saying he wanted to see Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul step in as acting governor until the attorney general’s investigation is complete.
“Since the Governor has said that he will not resign, I believe it is in the best interest of our State if Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul serves as Acting Governor until the Attorney General’s investigations of any other potential inquiries reach a conclusion or a removal determination under the law is made,” McDonald said.
And Assemblymember Robert Carroll, D-Brooklyn, also joined the calls of other Democrats calling for Cuomo’s resignation, saying controversies surrounding the governor will impede the work of state government.
“For the sake of all New Yorkers, the Governor should resign and allow for the focus of government to return solely to the critical work of COVID recovery and rebuilding our economy,” Carroll said.
As of now, a majority of Democrats in either chamber of the Legislature have yet to call for Cuomo to be removed from office. But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Westchester, has called for his resignation, which could encourage others to do the same.
Republican leaders in both the Senate and Assembly have also called for Cuomo’s resignation, or impeachment if that doesn’t pan out.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a fourth term in office is still on the table despite a growing number of women who’ve accused him of sexual harassment.
The team of lawyers will be empowered to depose witnesses, subpoena the administration for testimony and documents, and retrieve other data relevant to the investigation.
New York NOW
Cuomo Claims, Albany's Sexual Harassment Problem, COVID-19
Governor Andrew Cuomo says he won't resign following claims of sexual harassment.