New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo refused to resign Friday, as dozens of Democratic elected officials demand that he step down in the wake of a wave of allegations of sexual harassment from women who worked in his office.
“I’m not going to resign,” Cuomo said in an afternoon conference call with reporters. He instead tried to cast doubt on the women who have accused him of harassment.
“I did not do what has been alleged, period,” he said. “I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives, but I can tell you as a former attorney general who has gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation, and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision.”
The conference call came hours after a slew of New York’s congressional delegation — from progressives like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman to establishment fixtures like Reps. Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez — called on Cuomo to step aside in a flood of press releases. Cuomo, in the conference call, explicitly went after those Democrats.
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are in my opinion reckless and dangerous,” he said. “The people in New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance.”
Over the last three weeks, multiple women have publicly claimed Cuomo sexually harassed them, including women who have worked with the governor. The most serious allegation was just made this week, by a former staffer who said the governor groped her at the Executive Mansion. The allegations have led a mass of New York Democrats to demand Cuomo step down, including many of the legislators he would have to work with this month to form a pandemic-era state budget ahead of an April 1 deadline. New York State Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the allegations.
Cuomo, though, was defiant on Friday, at times beyond reasonable belief. In the Friday call, he compared to the calls for him to resign to “cancel culture.” He suggested he was not “part of the political club,” only minutes before acknowledging he’s been in politics since he was 23 years old and working for his father.
“I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone, and I never would,” Cuomo said. “Now, it is possible that I’ve taken a picture with a person who after the fact says they were uncomfortable with the pose in the picture? Yes. And that’s what you’re hearing about.”
Soon before he began his call, a former Albany reporter detailed that type of posing and the governor’s behavior while she covered him in an essay in New York magazine.
“I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex,” she wrote. “It was about power. He wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I was small and weak, that I did not deserve what relative power I had: a platform to hold him accountable for his words and actions. He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist.”