New York’s two US senators, Chuck Schumer, who is also the Senate majority leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand, joined national and state representatives late Friday afternoon in calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
Cuomo had earlier again refused to resign after a group of New York’s most powerful and prominent Democrats in the House of Representatives joined calls for the governor to step down over the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him, and scrutiny over his administration’s misreporting of Covid-19 deaths among nursing home residents.”
Schumer and Gillibrand put out a joint statement, saying: “Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct.”
It continued: “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
At a press conference earlier on Friday, Cuomo denied all of the sexual misconduct allegations and castigated politicians calling for him to quit as “reckless and dangerous” and engaging in “cancel culture”.
“I did not do what has been alleged. Period,” Cuomo said. The governor said he wanted investigations into the allegations to proceed but added: “I’m not going to resign. Period.
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” he added.
His statement came shortly after a group of congressional representatives includes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a standard bearer for the party’s progressive wing, as well as Jerry Nadler, who chairs the House judiciary committee, and Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House oversight committee.
Nadler said on Friday that Cuomo had lost the confidence of New Yorkers. “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,” the congressman said.
In a joint statement issued with Jamaal Bowman, another New York congressman, Ocasio-Cortez said the latest allegation of sexual harassment against Cuomo was “alarming” and “raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts.”
The duo added that the six accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct leveled at Cuomo came on top of claims that the governor’s administration hid data on Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, a combination that means that Cuomo “can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges”.
In total, 10 of the 19 Democrats from New York elected to the House of Representatives have now called for Cuomo’s resignation, with Kathleen Rice, who represents a section of New York’s Long Island, previously calling for his removal.
On Thursday, Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City and a longtime Cuomo rival, also urged the governor to step down, alongside 59 New York state lawmakers, meaning that almost all major New York Democratshave now turned on the state’s chief executive.
The New York state assembly also launched an “impeachment investigation” into the sexual misconduct allegations made by the six women. A separate investigation is being led by the state attorney general, Letitia James.
“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious,” said Carl Heastie, the speaker of the state assembly. The assembly judiciary committee will oversee the investigation, which will have the power to interview witnesses and subpoena documents. Forty-seven state senators have already said Cuomo should step down, more than the 46 needed to convict the governor if he was impeached.
Separately, police in Albany said that they have been notified of the allegations and that these “may have risen to the level of a crime” although this does not mean they have opened a criminal investigation.
Cuomo had previously denied any wrongdoing in his treatment of women, although he has provided a general apology if any of his previous actions made anyone feel uncomfortable.
On Friday, Cuomo, who was attorney general of New York and Bill Clinton’s housing secretary and is the son of the late governor Mario Cuomo, said: “I am not part of the political club.”
He said it wasn’t clear why all the sexual misconduct allegations had been made now. He said they should be taken very seriously, but he denied any inappropriate conduct.
“Look, it’s very simple: I never harassed someone. I’ve never abused anyone,” Cuomo said.
“You need to know the facts before you make a decision,” he said, referring to his critics. “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth.”
On the nursing home deaths, the governor has previously claimed his administration had to verify deaths of residents at hospitals, but critics questioned why that hadn’t held up the release of data in other states. Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Along with an allegation that the governor groped a female aide at the Executive Mansion last year, Cuomo is facing allegations of sexually suggestive remarks and behavior toward women, including female aides. One aide said he asked her if she would ever have sex with an older man. And another aide claimed Cuomo once kissed her without consent, and said the governor’s aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, has repeatedly said that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both support the attorney general’s investigation into the harassment allegations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report