NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation on Tuesday after a damning report from the state’s attorney general uncovered multiple accusations of sexual harassment against women.
The decision comes after Cuomo’s aides reportedly spent the weekend working to convince him to step down and avoid impeachment and conviction in the state Legislature.
“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let the government get back to the government, and therefore that is what I’ll do because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you,” Cuomo said in televised remarks.
The 63-year-old apologized to his accusers but made clear he does not think he crossed a line that required his removal from office. Instead, he framed his decision around preventing the state’s government from coming to a halt.
“Government operations and wasting energy on distraction is the last thing government should be,” Cuomo said. “I cannot be the cause. New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York and I love you. Everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will serve the rest of Cuomo’s term after his resignation becomes official in 14 days. She will become the state’s first female governor.
Cuomo apologized for his behavior but insisted he had not intended to harass any of his accusers.
“I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men. I have done it all my life. It’s who I’ve been since I can remember,” Cuomo 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.”
The news is a fall from grace for Cuomo, who was praised just over a year ago for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his hard-hit state.
President Joe Biden was asked about Cuomo’s resignation after he called for his resignation last week.
“I respect the governor’s decision and I respect the decision he made,” Biden told reporters on Tuesday afternoon at the White House.
Asked what the impact his resignation will have on the Democratic Party, Biden responded, “I think that impact is all on Andrew Cuomo”.
Other Democrats joined Biden in lauding the news of Cuomo’s resignation. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said he did the right thing.
“I think the Governor did the right thing, and I just want to commend the brave and courageous women who came forward. That was not an easy thing to do,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said there is no place for sexual harassment in the workforce and he’s already spoken with Hochul.
“There is no place for sexual harassment, and today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo to resign was the right decision for the good of the people of New York,” he said in a statement.