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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that he is stepping down, effective in 14 days.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said during a press conference on Tuesday. “And, therefore, that’s what I’ll do. Because I work for you. And doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because, as we say, it’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘we.'”
The three-term governor called his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, “smart and competent.” The transition for Hochul, a Democrat who joined his team in 2014, to take over must be “seamless,” Cuomo said, adding, “We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the delta variant and so should you be.” Hochul will become New York’s first female governor.
Cuomo has faced renewed calls to resign since an investigation from the state attorney general’s office found that the New York governor harassed 11 women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers. The probe’s findings, announced by Attorney General Letitia James on Aug. 3, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
Cuomo, who has denied the allegations, now faces the possibility of criminal charges. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said over the weekend that his office is investigating a groping claim from Cuomo’s former aide, who was one of the 11 women in the state’s report. “What I have read so far I can say that, you know, we’re floating around a misdemeanor, but again, that’s just from the attorney general’s report,” he said of possible charges.
The announcement also follows a Hollywood Reporter report that more than 30 sexual assault survivors and victims, current and former Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund clients and former Time’s Up staffers wrote an open letter accusing the group of prioritizing “proximity to power over mission” in regard to its relationship with Cuomo. The New York Attorney General’s report had also revealed that Cuomo’s office sought advice from Time’s Up chief Tina Tchen and Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund co-founder Roberta Kaplan on how to respond to the sexual harassment allegations that had been leveled against Cuomo. Kaplan resigned from the Time’s Up board on Monday morning shortly after the report.
Cuomo, New York’s 56th governor, first took office in 2011. His father, Mario Cuomo, governed the state in the 1980s and 1990s. His brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, was included in the AG report, confirming that Chris participated in strategy discussions with members of the governor’s staff.
In his announcement on Tuesday, the outgoing governor said, “I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. I’m a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated; I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society.” He added, “New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.”
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