New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has denied allegations he sexually harassed women and said he would not resign, hours after the majority of the state’s Democratic Congress delegation had him called to resign.
“I did not do what was alleged. Period, ”Cuomo said, referring to half a dozen complaints of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior filed in recent weeks by former helpers.
In a provocative appeal with reporters, the besieged governor questioned the motives of fellow Democrats who joined in calls for him to step down before official inquiries were completed, saying their behavior was “reckless and dangerous. “.
At one point, he blamed “cancellation culture” for his predicament and said he was not part of the “political club,” despite being the son of a New York governor in three terms and having spent much of his life in prominent political positions.
The governor’s resistance raises the stakes of a growing and increasingly bad-tempered confrontation between his administration and a growing camp of lawmakers in Albany and Washington.
Hours earlier, a dozen New York members of the House of Representatives – including Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and progressive stars Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman – issued statements calling on Cuomo to resign.
“The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he responded to them, made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Nadler said, concluding, “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said it was “alarming” that the latest incident of alleged sexual assault against the governor took place just a few months ago, and expressed concern for the safety of the governor. its staff.
The constant pressure against Cuomo entered a new phase Thursday night when State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he would allow the Judiciary Committee to start an investigation of the governor – a decision that could lead to impeachment proceedings.
Cuomo, a three-term Democratic governor, has become a national political star for his dominant performance at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
But his reputation was diminished for his management of state nursing homes during the pandemic. The New York attorney general found in January that his administration had underestimated Covid-19 deaths for nursing home residents by nearly 50%.
This follows a controversial governor’s order in April last year requiring nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals. The policy was aimed at freeing up space in hospitals as they feared they would soon be overwhelmed by the pandemic, but has since been blamed by critics for the spread of deadly infections among vulnerable nursing home residents.
The pressure on him increased further due to a drumbeat of accusations in recent weeks of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards employees. Cuomo apologized for “whatever pain I caused” but insisted he never touched anyone in a proper way.
Cuomo has repeatedly called on the public not to judge until an investigation into his conduct overseen by the New York attorney general is completed. There is no timeline for this review.
In the meantime, more and more politicians have come forward every day to demand his dismissal. Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York and longtime Cuomo rival, joined their ranks on Thursday, calling Cuomo’s behavior “disgusting.”
He was prompted by a report published this week in the Albany Times Union, alleging that Cuomo summoned a young staff member to his mansion late last year and groped her. The case has been referred to Albany Police.
“I want to make it clear that what is alleged just did not happen. The latest allegation is not true, ”Cuomo said Friday. “And I didn’t have an inappropriate sexual relationship. Period.”
The battle to eliminate Cuomo, who dominated state politics for a decade, rages on as New York enters a critical moment in its Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
The state is also in the midst of tense budget negotiations, with many Progressive Democrats determined to impose higher taxes on the wealthy along with other priorities the centrist governor has thwarted in the past.
In his statement, Nadler, one of the leaders of the impeachment trial former president, former President Donald Trump, admitted the governor’s investigations were not complete, but argued it was time to act.
“There is a difference between formal investigations which can result in criminal charges and a matter of trust in our political leaders,” he said. “The question before us is squarely a political judgment.”