June 21, 2021

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Majority of New York congressional Democrats call for Gov. Cuomo’s resignation

5 min read

The stunning, coordinated announcements sent shockwaves through the state and could signal a turning point in two scandals that have engulfed the three-term Democratic governor. Cuomo has vigorously resisted calls for his resignation, brushing them off as political maneuvers by his rivals. But the congressional group demanding he step down includes members from across the party’s ideological lines and included both senior figures connected to the state political establishment and younger progressive lawmakers. Their decision follows another, less than 24 hours earlier, by Democrats in the state Assembly to launch an impeachment investigation that will be carried out concurrently with the state attorney general’s independent probe.

Addressing the allegations Friday, Cuomo said in a news conference to “let the review proceed. I’m not going to resign.”

“I did not do what has been alleged, period. I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives,” he continued.

He also, without naming names, attacked the lawmakers who have called on him to resign, saying politicians who take positions “without knowing the facts” are “reckless and dangerous” and bowing to “cancel culture.”

Thirteen House Democrats from New York on Friday said Cuomo must resign, arguing that the allegations have impeded his ability to effectively govern and serve the people of New York.

A source familiar with the conversations that preceded Friday’s coordinated call for Cuomo’s resignation said the group has been in touch as the allegations mounted, but only agreed to move forward together on Thursday. They decided to wait until Friday morning to go public so as not to step on President Joe Biden’s speech Thursday night.

The source said the tipping point for the members had been a combination of the most recent developments, including State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s announcement on Thursday that Democrats there would begin an impeachment investigation. The decision to go in, nearly all at the same time, was also an acknowledgement that when one made the call, it would up the pressure on all the rest.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement that Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the people of New York” and House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said Cuomo’s resignation would be in the “best interest of all New Yorkers.”

They join Rep. Kathleen Rice, who earlier this month became the first out of the 19 Democrats in the New York House delegation to call for Cuomo to step down.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman said they agreed with others “who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges.”
“These allegations have all been consistent and highly-detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts,” Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said in a joint statement, adding that they “believe these women” who have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.

In separate statements Friday, fellow Democratic Reps. Grace Meng, Nydia Velázquez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Mondaire Jones, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney, Brian Higgins and Paul Tonko also urged Cuomo to step down as governor.

Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York’s long-term care patients by approximately 50%, according to a state attorney general report from January, and then delayed sharing that potentially damaging information with state lawmakers.

The administration left out Covid-19 deaths of residents who had been transferred out of the facility or to hospitals, a statement from Attorney General Letitia James’ Office said. While the report found that the overall number of deaths did not change, it led to a misrepresentation of the Covid-19 death toll in New York’s long-term care facilities.

Cuomo and his administration defended their decision, arguing that with both the Justice Department and New York state lawmakers asking questions, the federal inquiry became their priority. The governor denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.

Amid the mounting criticism, Cuomo also faces accusations from multiple women of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. The scandal, which has consumed New York politics over the past two weeks, began on February 24, when former aide Lindsey Boylan alleged in a Medium post that Cuomo kissed her on the lips against her will in 2018 after a brief, one-on-one meeting in his New York City office.
Last week, Cuomo offered an apology to the women and said he never knew he “was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and denied touching anyone inappropriately. He rejected calls for his resignation.

Nadler said Friday that the allegations against Cuomo are “serious” and credible, and Cuomo is “guaranteed due process under law,” but the question of confidence in New York’s leader is one of “political judgment.”

“The bravery individuals have shown in coming forward to share their experiences with Governor Cuomo is inspiring, and I stand with them in support,” he said. “The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point.”

Several of the Democrats on Friday said New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into Cuomo’s behavior should continue.

On Thursday, more than 50 Democrats of the New York state Senate and Assembly said in a letter that “it’s time for Governor Cuomo to resign,” arguing that he is “ineffective in this time of most urgent need.” The top Democrat in the state Senate, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, on Sunday had said “for the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Friday’s outpouring of calls for Cuomo’s resignation also puts new focus on New York Sens. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in the US Senate, and Kirsten Gillibrand, who in 2017 was the first to call on former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign after multiple women accused him of touching them inappropriately.

Appearing on ABC’s “The View” Thursday, Schumer said the allegations against Cuomo were “very troubling” and must be thoroughly investigated by the state attorney general, but stopped short of saying Cuomo should leave office.

Gillibrand also has not called for Cuomo’s resignation and backs the New York attorney general’s investigation. On Wednesday, she refused to discuss with CNN why she views allegations against Cuomo differently than the accusations Franken faced.

She, however, has called Cuomo’s behavior “completely unacceptable” and said that every allegation of sexual harassment “must be taken seriously and be reviewed.”

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who also serves as Democratic Caucus Chair, told CNN last week that he did not think Cuomo should resign, instead calling for “a full, fair, complete independent investigation.”

Asked Friday in light of his colleagues’ push for Cuomo to resign, Jeffries’ spokeswoman Christie Stephenson told CNN that the congressman’s position has not changed.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

2021-03-12 13:37:58

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