Andrew Cuomo: Biden calls on New York Governor to resign after sexual harassment claims

Cuomo has denied allegations and says he has never made any 'inappropriate sexual advances'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was under fast-growing pressure to resign on Tuesday after officials released an explosive report claiming he has sexually harassed multiple women during his time in office.

President Joe Biden said Mr Cuomo should step down, while other members of his Democratic Party said he should be removed via impeachment if he refused to quit.

"He should resign," Mr Biden said at the White House.

Current and former state employees were among those the governor harassed, as well as women outside of government, according to an investigative report released by New York's Attorney General Letitia James.

"The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging and by making inappropriate comments," Ms James told reporters.

Mr Cuomo responded to the report saying he never "made inappropriate sexual advances".

"I want you to know directly from me, I never touched anyone inappropriately... I am 63 years old. I lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am," he said.

"Trial by newspaper, or biased reviews are not the way to find the facts in this matter. I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and a jury. Because this just did not happen."

The governor has denied allegations of harassment since they surfaced earlier this year, saying he never meant to make any of the women who have complained about his suggestive comments and unwanted touching feel uncomfortable.

Still, in February, he acknowledged that he "may have been insensitive or too personal".

Mr Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other major Democratic figures previously said they would wait on the outcome of an investigation before joining any calls for the governor to resign.

That changed after the release of Mr James's report.

"Recognising his love for New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the governor to resign," Ms Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Mr Cuomo should step down.

“It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as governor," he said in a statement.

"He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”

New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand issued a joint letter declaring that "no elected official is above the law".

"The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor's office," they said. "We continue to believe that the governor should resign."

During the five-month probe, investigators spoke to 179 people, including complainants and current and former members of the executive chamber.

The probe led to a "deeply disturbing yet clear picture" of a "climate of fear" in which Mr Cuomo sexually harassed a number of women, many of them young, said Ms James.

The governor's office was a "toxic" workplace that enabled "harassment to occur," she added.

Ms James launched her investigation into the sexual harassment allegations after receiving a formal request from Mr Cuomo's office on March 1 as the number of publicly reported allegations mounted.

Joon Kim, a former federal prosecutor and acting Manhattan US attorney, and Anne Clark, an employment lawyer with experience in sexual harassment cases, led the probe.

"This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government and shines light on injustice that can be present at the highest levels of government," said Ms James.

The harassment investigation against the governor follows a probe into his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The attorney general released a report in January describing how Mr Cuomo's administration had undercounted nursing home resident deaths by about 50 per cent during the pandemic.

Updated: August 4th 2021, 4:03 AM
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