In light of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well as lingering outrage over how he handled the coronavirus pandemic in the state's nursing homes, several members of Congress on Friday called for the Democrat to immediately resign.
More than half of the Democratic members of New York's congressional delegation have now joined the majority of state lawmakers and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice in calling for Cuomo to step down. U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Nydia Velázquez, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng, Antonio Delgado, Brian Higgins, and Yvette Clarke all issued statements Friday.
The mounting support for Cuomo's resignation comes as the governor—who has apologized for comments he has made in the workplace but denied touching anyone inappropriately—faces an impeachment investigation authorized Thursday by the speaker of the New York Assembly, Democrat Carl Heastie, as well as an indepedent probe for which state Attorney General Letitia James has selected two lawyers.
Over the past several months, it has become clear that Governor Cuomo is unfit to continue leading our state.
For the good of New York and everyone who calls it home, I urge Governor Cuomo to resign.
My full statement below pic.twitter.com/vCZSQCn9YF
— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) March 12, 2021
Referencing the latest allegation—an aide accused Cuomo of "groping" her while they were alone at the state's Executive Mansion—Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said in a joint statement: "The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration's staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly-detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts."
The progressive pair noted that the governor "is not only facing the accusation that he engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and assault," but also "the extensive report from the attorney general that found the Cuomo administration hid data on Covid-19 nursing home deaths from both the public and the state legislature."
"As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives," Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman concluded, "we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the attorney general, and we believe the 55 members of the New York State legislature, including the state Senate majority leader, who have concluded that Gov. Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges."
Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chair, concurred that "the repeated accusations against the governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point." As Nadler put it: "Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York" and "must resign."
While recognizing the "bravery" of those who have come forward and making clear that he stands "with them in support," Nadler also addressed the investigations:
Cuomo is guaranteed due process under law. Although his accusers are credible and the charges against him are serious indeed, the investigations under way by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and the Albany police must be permitted to run their course before we reach judgment about his liability for any alleged criminal act. But there is a difference between formal investigations that may end in criminal charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership. The question before us is squarely a political judgment.
Maloney, chair of House Committee on Oversight and Reform, put the recent allegations into a broader societal context, saying that "thanks to the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, women are emboldened to step forward."
"I join with [Democratic state Senate] Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, my colleagues, and others who have called on Gov. Cuomo to resign in the best interest of all New Yorkers," Maloney added. "We have come a long way, but now is the time to finally ensure that this generation's courage stops harassment once and for all."
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the most recent allegation against Cuomo "nauseating," adding Thursday that "the allegations of these women are serious" and "deeply troubling," but has stopped short of demanding he step down.
After the wave of statements from New Yorkers in Congress on Friday, Cuomo announced a press conference scheduled for 1 pm. The governor told reporters he would be focusing on his job rather than resigning and called for both probes to proceed, adding that politicians who issue opinions without knowing the facts are "reckless and dangerous."
This post has been updated with details from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press conference.