The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, 63, a three-term Democrat, finally announced Tuesday, that he would step down. This came after an investigation by New York Attorney General, Letitia James found that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former government workers.
Mr. Cuomo said his resignation would take effect in 14 days. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be sworn in to replace him, becoming the first woman in history to occupy New York State’s top office.
Cuomo managed to resist the pressure on him to resign for several months. And the #MeToo movement were surprisingly quite througout the period while some worked behind the scenes to defend Cuomo despite.
Consequently, some members have faced widespread criticism for allegedly advising Cuomo’s administration on sexual harassment allegations against him.
Roberta Kaplan, a prominent lawyer who founded Time’s Up legal defense fund, has resigned as chairwoman of the organisation. Time’s Up was set up in response to the #MeToo movement to promote gender equality.
In the NY attorney general report, Kaplan had reviewed a draft of an op-ed letter aimed at attacking Lindsey Boylan, a former aide of the governor and the first to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment.
The letter was never published, but was part of a broader effort by the governor’s inner circle to discredit Boylan, the report found.
Kaplan’s resignation came as a group of 40 sexual assault survivors posted an open letter to Time’s Up, criticising both Kaplan and the organization’s CEO, Tina Tchen, who is also named in the attorney general’s report.
Meanwhile, the attorney general’s report heightened pressures piled on Mr. Cuomo for several months to resign. This prompted President Biden to join the many voices calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
The State Assembly, which is dominated by Democrats, were already taking steps toward impeaching Cuomo.
On Monday, the speaker of the State Assembly, Carl E. Heastie, made clear that there would be no “deal” to allow Mr. Cuomo to avoid an impeachment that appeared increasingly inevitable.
Mr. Cuomo’s fall was dramatic. He was hailed last year as a national hero for his regular Coronavirus press briefings. Meanwhile, he hid information about his fatal decision that cost lives of many victims in nursing homes.
“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing…And therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”
Cuomo signed a bill that approved sweeping new protections against sexual harassment two years ago. He made a promise to the women of New York and said, “Let’s actually change things.”
Mr. Cuomo made it easier for New Yorkers to bring forth sexual harassment claims. He also approved legislation lengthening the statute of limitations for rape.
He also pointed a finger at other men being held to account. “No one is above the law,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement in May 2018, after several women accused Eric T. Schneiderman, then the state’s attorney general, of sexual violence. He urged the official to resign.
The attorney general report revealed that the day following the bill signing, Cuomo resumed his unwelcome pursuit of a female state trooper, “Why don’t you wear a dress?” he asked her on Aug. 13, 2019, the report said. A month later, she told investigators, the governor ran an unwanted hand across her belly.
The complaints against Mr. Cuomo are familiar in the #MeToo era. But he committed sexual harrassment while, he publicly aligned himself with the #MeToo movement. This boosted his reputation while generating campaign donations.
Of the 11 women the report described as victims of Mr. Cuomo’s harassment, at least eight said they experienced it after early October 2017, when the revelations about sexual misconduct by the producer Harvey Weinstein broke.
However, Cuomo has continued to deny that he “touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” and suggested that the attorney general’s investigation was politically motivated.
In a 21-minute speech, Mr. Cuomo acknowledged that his initial instinct had been “to fight through this controversy, because I truly believe it is politically motivated.”
“This situation and moment are not about the facts,” he said.
“It’s not about the truth. It’s not about thoughtful analysis. It’s not about how do we make the system better. This is about politics. And our political system today is too often driven by the extremes.”Cuomo
The governor said he took “full responsibility” for his actions as he denied ever touching anyone inappropriately. “In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone. But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” Mr. Cuomo said.