September 18, 2021

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns over sexual harassment scandal, will leave office in 2 weeks – CNBC

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he will resign in two weeks because of a sexual harassment scandal that has crippled his administration.

Cuomo’s shock announcement in a live stream from his Manhattan office came after his lawyer again flatly denied claims that he had sexually harassed anyone during the Democrat’s three terms in office..

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will replace Cuomo, becoming the Empire State’s first female governor.

“Thank you for letting me serve you. It has been the honor of a lifetime,” Cuomo said. “God bless you.”

Cuomo’s resignation comes a week after a damning report issued by the state Attorney General’s office found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women, including current and former staffers, as well as a state police trooper.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaking August 10, 2021.

Source: The State of New York

Cuomo strongly denied the women’s claims and said the probe was tainted by bias against him and by politics.

His resignation came five months after the harassment allegations against him exploded into public view.

His fall represents a stunning turnaround from his political fortunes in 2020, when his handling of the Covid pandemic was widely praised and he was given a lucrative book deal to write about his management of it.

The governor also was mentioned as a possible running mate for Biden or a potential attorney general in the new administration.

Cuomo for months had resisted calls to resign, which began after several former aides — Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett and Karen Hinton — accused him of inappropriate behavior toward them.

Other women described similar conduct by Cuomo.

One of them, an aide, told superiors that Cuomo aggressively groped her in the governor’s mansion last year after summoning her on the pretext of dealing with a mobile phone issue.

The unidentified woman’s account was relayed to the Albany Police Department, which reached out to her representative.

After James released her report, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office said it was conducting a criminal investigation of conduct, and would request investigative materials collected as part of the attorney general’s probe.

The governor, while claiming “I never touched anyone inappropriately” or intended to make women uncomfortable, acknowledged in March that he had “acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”

On March 11, the Democratic speaker of the state Assembly, Carl Heastie, authorized an impeachment inquiry into Cuomo’s conduct by the Judiciary Committee.

From dynasty to downfall

Cuomo is a son of the late three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo.

He previously was New York’s attorney general and as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration.

Cuomo has three daughters with his ex-wife, Kerry Kennedy, whose own father, Robert Kennedy, served as U.S. attorney general under his brother President John Kennedy and was assassinated while running for president in 1968.

Cuomo became a national star last year.

The governor had been lauded for his matter-of-fact press conferences detailing the grim toll of Covid-19, his frequent admonitions to take precautions from becoming infected and his empathetic reaction to the human toll from the pandemic.

Cuomo’s banter-laden interviews about Covid with his own brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, won some gushing reviews, were fodder for late-night comedians and provided grist for criticism from media ethicists.

The governor’s press conferences were frequently contrasted with those of then-President Donald Trump, who was criticized for questioning the guidance of his own medical advisors and repeatedly downplayed the danger of the virus. The New York governor won an Emmy late last year for his televised performances.

But Cuomo’s Covid management — and his aggressive government management style overall — also carried the seeds of his political destruction.

At odds with his own party

Although he easily won reelection twice, Cuomo long alienated many Democrats and progressives in the state.

Democratic state lawmakers also have been resentful for Cuomo’s past tacit alliance with a small clique Democratic senators who for years effectively handed control of the state Senate to Republicans even though Democrats held a majority of seats.

For his entire political career, Cuomo has had a micromanaging, take-no-prison manner in dealing with opponents and would-be allies who are slow to bend to his will.

That style was seen in full effect in Cuomo’s dealing with Assembly member Ron Kim of Queens, a Democrat who said in April the governor loudly lambasted him in a phone call to his home and threatened to “destroy” him over Kim’s criticism about the lack of disclosure on Covid-related death data.

Kim and other lawmakers had been angered after hearing from a top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, that his administration had withheld from data about deaths from Covid of nursing home residents. DeRosa claimed at the time that the data was kept hidden to avoid having it “used against us” by federal prosecutors under the command of Trump‘s attorney general, William Barr.

Even as Cuomo adamantly denied Kim’s account of that call, he accused Kim of “unethical” conduct by supporting the owners of nail salons while the legislature discussed adopting reforms of the industry six years ago.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who himself has long been a whipping boy for the governor, called the phone call “classic Andrew Cuomo.”

“A lot of people in New York state have received those phone calls,” de Blasio said during an MSNBC interview.

“The bullying is nothing new. I believe Ron Kim and it’s very, very sad, no public servant, no person who’s telling the truth, should be treated that way. The threats, the belittling, the demand that someone change their statement right that moment … many, many times I’ve heard that and I know a lot of other people in this state have heard that.”

The controversy over the phone call erupted shortly before former Cuomo aide Boylan resurrected her previous claims that he had sexually harassed her.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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