Top Dems call on Cuomo to resign amid harassment allegations

Both of New York's Senators and multiple members of its congressional delegation joined the growing chorus of legislators calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign over sexual misconduct allegations and a nursing home scandal.

In a statement released on Friday, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, called on Cuomo to resign.

"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," the joint statement read. "Governor Cuomo should resign."

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) issued a joint statement Friday calling for him to step down. U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, Grace Meng and Antonio Delgado added their voices to the call.

"After two accounts of sexual assault, four accounts of harassment, the Attorney General’s investigation finding the Governor’s admin hid nursing home data from the legislature & public, we agree with the 55+ members of the New York State legislature that the Governor must resign," said Ocasio-Cortez.

Nadler said Cuomo has 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," said Nadler.

Cuomo has repeatedly said he won't resign and urged the public to await the outcome of an investigation of his conduct by state Attorney General Letitia James

"I’m not going to resign," Cuomo said during an afternoon phone call with reporters. "I did not do what has been alleged. Period."

He added: "People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth."

A majority of state legislators have called for Cuomo's resignation and police in the state capital said they stood ready to investigate a groping allegation. 

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In the latest allegation against Cuomo, The Times Union of Albany reported Wednesday that an unidentified aide had claimed Cuomo reached under her shirt fondled her after summoning her to his official residence late last year.

"I have not had a sexual relationship that is inappropriate. Period," said Cuomo.

Cuomo's growing list of detractors now covers virtually every region in the state and the political power centers of New York City and Washington. A majority of Democrats in the state legislature and all but a handful of the state's 29-member congressional delegation have called on him to step down.

At least 121 members of the state Assembly and Senate have said publicly they believe Cuomo can no longer govern and should quit office now, according to a tally by The Associated Press. The count includes 65 Democrats and 56 Republicans.

"How do you come to a conclusion when you don't know the facts?" said Cuomo.

Several other women who worked for the governor in Albany or during his time in former President Bill Clinton's Cabinet, and one who met him briefly at a wedding, have also accused Cuomo of inappropriate conduct.

"Is it possible that I have taken a picture with a person who after the fact says they were uncomfortable with the pose in the picture? Yes. I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable," said Cuomo.

The New York Legislature passed a bill limiting Cuomo's emergency powers while critics have blasted Cuomo and his top aides for reportedly altering a report from the state Health Department on the number of deaths in nursing homes from COVID-19.

The escalating political crisis jeopardizes Cuomo’s 2022 reelection in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, and threatens to cast a cloud over President Joe Biden’s early days in office. Republicans across the country have seized on the scandal to try to distract from Biden’s success with the pandemic and challenge his party’s well-established advantage with female voters.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether President Biden believes Cuomo should resign. She said every woman who has come forth about harassment by the New York governor "deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect and should be able to tell her story."

Dozens of Democrats had already called on Cuomo to resign this week, but the coalition of critics expanded geographically and politically on Friday to include the likes of New York City progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; the leader of the House Democratic campaign arm, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney; Buffalo-based Rep. Brian Higgins; and a group of Long Island-based state lawmakers who had been loyal Cuomo allies.

Never before has the brash, 63-year-old Democratic governor, the son of a New York governor himself, been more politically alone.

With the Associated Press.