New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he was stepping aside after the state's Attorney General (NY AG) Letitia James determined in her report that he sexually harassed 11 women and violated civil law against workplace misconduct.
He denied any wrongdoing but acknowledged that some of his behavior may have made some women feel uncomfortable.
"I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been too familiar with people. [...] In my mind, I've never crossed the line with anyone," the 63-year-old Democrat who had served since 2011 as governor of the fourth most-populous state said at the press conference. "I'm a fighter, and my instinct is to fight through this controversy. [...] Wasting energy on distractions is the last thing state government should be doing, and I cannot be the cause of that."
Cuomo initially refused to leave the post despite facing public pressure to do so, including from United States President Joe Biden-a friend of the governor for years – and other prominent Democrats.
He will continue acting as the state leader for the next 14 days, after which Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, will take over the position, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
Born in Queens and graduated from Fordham University and Albany Law School, Cuomo went on to become the attorney general of New York state, the position now held by James.
He gained political experience early on as his father’s campaign manager, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo who served from 1983 to 1994.
Andrew Cuomo was U.S. housing secretary under U.S. President Bill Clinton before getting elected governor in 2010. He had been re-elected twice and intended to run for a fourth term next year.
James said Cuomo's resignation "closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it's an important step toward justice."
In his resignation announcement, Cuomo said the investigation had “political motives”. As criticism mounted that Cuomo had mishandled aspects of the COVID-19 battle, especially in nursing homes, in order not to be exposed, the democratic establishment accused him of "sexual harassment" and "resigned" him.
With reporting by AP, CNN, CNBC