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Governor Andrew Cuomo Resigns Following Sexual Harassment Scandal

cuomo resigns
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned on Tuesday, following weeks of scandal and a report by the state Attorney General's office saying he sexually harassed 11 women.

Saying that he did not want to face weeks and months of political and legal fighting over multiple scandals including the sexual harassment of 11 women, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he is resigning from office, effective August 24th.

Cuomo, facing nearly certain impeachment by the state assembly after a report by the state’s Attorney General found he broke state and federal laws by sexually harassing 11 women, says he will leave office after a two week transition.

“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now, is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said. “And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

The governor also apologized to the 11 women in the report, saying that he believes now that he truly offended them, and that he is deeply sorry. Cuomo says he knows now that he crossed the line, but says he didn't understand what that line was, blaming cultural and generational differences.

“I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints,” said Cuomo. “You taught me and you taught others an important lesson. Personal boundaries must be expanded, and must be protected. I accept full responsibility.”

The governor continues to deny that he sexually harassed anyone, calling the Attorney General’s report “false”.

The announcement comes one day after the Assembly set out a schedule to move toward articles of impeachment and two days after his top aide Melissa DeRosa also resigned, saying the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.

The governor also for the first time addressed the report’s conclusion that he sexually harassed a state trooper on his security detail by inappropriately touching her on at least two occasions in a way that she said “violated” her personal space. The governor says he often affectionately touches troopers, both male and female with pats on the back and other gestures.

“It’s my way of saying ‘I see you, I appreciate you’,” the governor said.

The governor’s exit does not mean that his political and potential legal troubles are over. The Albany County Sherriff is investigating allegations that he sexually assaulted staffer Brittany Commisso, and at least four other DA’s are also looking at potential charges.

He also faces investigations into a $5 million dollar book deal, where it’s alleged that he used staff to help him write and edit the memoir. And there’s an ongoing federal investigation into his handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo’s exit means the state will have its first woman governor. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native and former congresswoman, takes over as chief executive of the state August 24th.

"I agree with Governor Cuomo's decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “ As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor."

REACTION FROM LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LEADERS
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said Cuomo's resignation means the state government's focus will be "squarely on the people of New York." Walsh wished Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul well as she prepares to replace Cuomo as the State's top executive. He said Hochul understand the City of Syracuse and its people.

Central New York’s congressional delegation said Governor Cuomo’s resignation is the right decision for New Yorkers. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand both thanked the brave women who came forward, and say they look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

Congressmembers John Katko and Claudia Tenney said Cuomo’s resignation is long overdue, but doesn’t hold him accountable for his actions. They both said criminal prosecution should be on the table not only for sexual harassment and assault, but also nursing home policies during the pandemic.

Attorney General Letitia James, who’s office released the report that ultimately led to Cuomo’s resignation, said in a release that today closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice. She thanked Cuomo for his contributions to the state, and says we must continue to build on progress already made.