This is a developing story.
NEW YORK—Gov. Andrew Cuomo has resigned amid a flood of scandals that have racked his office over the last several months. He made the announcement during a press briefing on Tuesday morning.
While Cuomo continued to maintain his innocence throughout his remarks, much as he had during the previous times he has addressed the allegations of sexual harassment, he eventually relented. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will take over in 14 days and serve the rest of Cuomo’s term through 2022, becoming the first governor of New York who is a woman.
Cuomo’s decade-long reign as governor had recently become less and less tenable, as New York State Attorney General Letitia James had submitted a report that found 11 allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against the governor, determining each woman’s allegations were credible. That drew a wave of people from both sides of the political aisle to call for him to resign, including locally-elected officials in Tompkins County and the Tompkins County Democratic Committee’s leadership. President Joe Biden also called for Cuomo to step down as governor.
Beyond that, there are ongoing investigations into Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which he was once nationally celebrated, particularly in relation to the potential cover-up of thousands of nursing home deaths that resulted from his policies.
Cuomo’s comments on Tuesday were a rollercoaster. At one point, he seemed to indicate that he wasn’t going to resign, saying that the allegations against him were politically motivated and that his “instinct is to fight.”
Rita Glavin, Cuomo’s attorney, had given a press briefing moments before the governor’s in which she disputed each allegation that was documented in James’ report. Cuomo’s own speech also started off as an apparent defense strategy, before he veered into resignation remarks.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government,” Cuomo said. “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.”
Cuomo called it “the honor of his lifetime” to have served as governor of New York. He also called Hochul “smart and competent.” However, he continued to deny the allegations against him.
“I never did, and I never would, intentionally disrespect a woman, or treat any woman different than I would want them to be treated, and that is the God’s honest truth,” Cuomo said towards the end of his speech, speaking to his three daughters. He did acknowledge making “mistakes.”
Hochul followed the resignation with a statement of her own.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down,” Hochul said. “It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. 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.”
Local officials’ reactions began to trickle in as the day went on. First was State Senator Tom O’Mara, a Republican, who represents the 58th District that envelops much of Tompkins County. He said that this signaled a new era for New York, but that public trust needed to be rebuilt along with the “economic and fiscal future” future of the state.
“It is important to move forward,” O’Mara said. “It is also important that all of the investigations into the misconduct and misdeeds of the Cuomo administration be carried out to their fullest extent for the sake of justice. Too many lives have been shattered and everyone responsible for the cover-ups and illegal actions that have come to define this administration must be held accountable.”