NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo said again Sunday that he would not resign despite calls from some legislators that he do so amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Shortly after he made the comments, the leader of the state Senate called for him to resign and the Assembly speaker questioned his ability to govern effectively.
“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” the governor said on a conference call with reporters.
“The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic,” he said. “And we’ve always done the exact opposite. You know, the system is based on due process and the credibility of the allegation. Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy, and that’s great, but it’s in the credibility of the allegation.”
Cuomo noted that state Attorney General Letitia James is doing an independent review of the allegations.
“Let the attorney general do her job,” Cuomo said. “She’s very good. She’s very competent. And that will be due process and then we’ll have the facts.”
Later on Sunday, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Cuomo to resign.
“Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government. We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the Covid-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
“New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign,” she said.
Last week, Stewart-Cousins had said Cuomo should resign if more credible accusations were made against him. Two more women came forward with allegations Saturday.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has not explicitly called for Cuomo to resign, but he released a statement Sunday saying he shared Stewart-Cousins’ "sentiment" and that the governor should "seriously consider" his ability to govern effectively.
"The allegations pertaining to the Governor that have been reported in recent weeks have been deeply disturbing, and have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else," Heastie said. "I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor's ability to continue to lead this state. We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York."
“There is no way I resign,” the governor said at Sunday's briefing, before Stewart-Cousins and Heastie released their statements. “Let’s do the attorney general investigation. Let’s do the findings and then we go from there. But I’m not going to be distracted by this either. We have to get a budget done in three weeks. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do for this state. This is not about me and accusations about me. The attorney general can handle that. This is about doing the people’s business and this next six months I believe will determine the future trajectory for New York state.”
Cuomo said politicians demanding he resign “don’t override the people’s will.”
“They don’t get to hear an allegation and make a determination on the allegation,” the governor said. “The people elected me, not the politicians. And the politicians want to play politics, that’s what they do.”
The number of women accusing the governor of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior rose to five on Saturday.
Cuomo said he wasn’t accusing the women of lying and that they have a right to come forward but that the AG's investigation should play out.
“I never meant to make anyone feel unwelcome in any way,” he said of the new accusations, echoing a statement he gave last Sunday. “And I know if customs change, then I’ll change the customs and the behaviors, but I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable.”