New York, Aug 10 (EFE).- Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he will step down as governor of New York in 14 days to avert the “distraction” of an impeachment by the state legislature over allegations of sexual harassment that he continues to deny.
While insisting the controversy “is about politics,” the three-term Democrat said that “given the circumstances the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government.”
Cuomo’s resignation came a week after state Attorney General Letitia James presented a report by independent investigators who deemed credible the accounts of 11 women who came forward with complaints about the governor, including nine state employees.
“The report said I sexually harassed 11 women. That was the headline people heard and saw. The reaction was outrage. It should have been. However, it was also false,” Cuomo said Tuesday.
“This is not to say that there are not 11 women I truly offended. There are. And for that, I deeply, deeply apologize,” the 63-year-old governor said.
“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate,” he said.
The son of three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) had earlier vowed to fight the accusations and to go forward with plans to seek a fourth term in 2022.
Many of the top Democrats in New York, including both of the state’s US senators, urged Cuomo to step down when the harassment allegations first became public in March and they renewed those calls a week ago with the release of the report from the AG Office.
President Joe Biden said in March that Cuomo should resign if the accusations were borne out by the investigation and when asked last Tuesday whether that was still his view, he replied in the affirmative.
But what apparently convinced Cuomo to resign were signs that the Democratic majority in the state legislature was ready to impeach him and that the probe would go beyond the harassment charges to examine his administration’s withholding of data about Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.
In the event of impeachment, a simple majority in the state Senate would have been enough not only to remove Cuomo as governor but to bar him from ever holding public office in New York.
Cuomo received the 2020 International Emmy Founders Award for the televised daily briefings that he gave during the worst months of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and was touted as a potential presidential hopeful.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, 62, is set to become New York’s first woman governor when she takes over the top job for the balance of Cuomo’s term. EFE nqs/dr