Washington (AP) – Detailed allegations of sexual harassment against several women have cost New York state Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo the support of his most powerful party friends.
“I think he should step down,” US President Joe Biden said of the governor, who was once celebrated as his party’s model politician. The Democratic leadership of the US Congress also called on Cuomo to resign. In New York State, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Democrat Carl Heastie, said Cuomo should be impeached as soon as possible.
“It has become more than clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and that he can no longer remain in office,” Heastie said after meeting his Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives. .
“Climate of Fear” under Cuomo
Hours earlier, an investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded that Cuomo had sexually assaulted former and current employees of state authorities. These included unwanted touches, kisses, hugs and inappropriate comments. In addition, the governor, who has been in office since 2011, created a “hostile work atmosphere” and a “climate of fear” for women, according to the 168-page investigative report.
James said their work was done. “The report speaks for itself.” It was a civil investigation that did not automatically lead to criminal consequences – even if they could still arise based on the published evidence. “The next steps lie with the governor, with parliament and with the public.”
Cancellation demands from both parties
Reactions from high-ranking politicians from the capital immediately followed. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and several Democratic MPs called on Cuomo to resign. Biden publicly endorsed these demands, although it is highly unusual for a US president to ask an elected governor, and one of the same party, to resign. Biden, however, had already been highly critical of the allegations against Cuomo in March. If the investigation is to confirm the allegations against Cuomo, he must resign, Biden said at the time.
In a joint statement, the governors of four northeastern states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut, said: “We are shocked by the results of the New York Attorney General’s independent investigation. Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Cuomo denies allegations
The governor, reelected to a third term in 2019, immediately dismissed the allegations. “I want you to hear directly from me that I have never touched or approached anyone inappropriately before,” Cuomo said in a video message. An image is drawn that does not suit him. The divorced father of three adult daughters did not speak of resignation.
The allegations of harassment against him by several women became public earlier this year. The 63-year-old apologized for giving reasons for possible “misinterpretations” of his behavior. The Attorney General opened her investigation in March.
Cuomo had initially become the Democratic Party’s bearer of hope in the coronavirus pandemic — also because he presented himself as an alternative to then-Republican President Donald Trump and won so many fans beyond state lines.