Embattled Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he is resigning from his post as the Empire State's top elected official after a state attorney general's report found he sexually harassed multiple women.
Cuomo made the announcement during a press conference on Tuesday. The well-known leader said his resignation would become effective in 14 days, at which point current Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be sworn in as his replacement.
Addressing the people of New York. Watch LIVE: https://t.co/0DOItVsW23— Andrew Cuomo (@Andrew Cuomo)1628610814.0
The announcement comes as calls for Cuomo's resignation have intensified in recent days amid a sexual harassment scandal. Last week, Democratic New York State Attorney General Letitia James published a report concluding that Cuomo violated federal and state laws by sexually harassing nearly a dozen women while in office and threatening retaliation against one of his alleged victims.
The report claimed that Cuomo had harassed the women by "engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women."
The resignation commences a dramatic fall from grace for the national figure, a three-term governor who has been routinely heralded by Democratic political figures and mainstream media networks during the coronavirus pandemic and was once considered a formidable potential candidate for president.
The New York Times called Cuomo's resignation "an astonishing reversal of fortune for one of the nation's best-known leaders."
During Tuesday's press conference, Cuomo admitted to being at times "too familiar" with women in his social interactions. But the governor maintained his innocence as it pertains to criminal sexual harassment.
"In my mind, I've never crossed the line with anyone," he said. "But I didn't realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn."
His comments echoed ones he made last week following the release of the attorney general's report.
"I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," a defiant Cuomo said at the time.
The sexual harassment report includes allegations that Cuomo reached under a former employee's blouse and groped her breast as well as kissed her on the lips and touched her butt during hugs. Another allegation claims that the governor told a former aide during the pandemic that he was "lonely" and "wanted to be touched."
Yet despite maintaining his innocence, Cuomo framed his stepping down as a humble decision to serve New York's best interest. He resigned because a public fight over the allegations would generate months of unhelpful controversy and "distraction" from real issues facing the state, he said.
"Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing," Cuomo argued. "And therefore that's what I'll do."
However, a voluntary resignation likely served Cuomo's best interests, too, saving him from the embarrassment of forced removal. Following the report's release last week, the State Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, began drafting articles of impeachment against the governor.