ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he is resigning Tuesday, effective in 14 days.
“Kathy Hochul is my lieutenant governor — she is smart and competent and this transition must be seamless,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have a lot going on., and I’m very worried about the delta variant and so should you, but she can be brought up to speed.”
The governor has been under fire with dueling controversies regarding the state’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, and sexual harassment allegations against the governor.
The governor was facing mounting calls for his resignation — including President Joe Biden — and impeachment in the wake of the bombshell report from the New York Attorney General’s office last week that concluded the governor sexually harassed multiple women, including former and current state employees.
The governor said there were inaccuracies with the attorney general’s report, but conceded that fighting the uphill political battle he is facing currently would not benefit New Yorkers.
“I am a New Yorker, born and bred, and I am a fighter, my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I believe that it’s politically motivated,” Gov. Cuomo “I believe it is unfair, and untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society. If I could communicate the facts through the frenzy, New Yorkers would understand, I believe that.
“But when I took my oath as governor, I became a fighter for you, and it is in your best interest that I must serve,” Gov. Cuomo said. “This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy — that’s what’s going to happen. Time and money that government should spend managing COVID, reopening the state, fighting gun violence, and saving New York City: All that time would be wasted.
“This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Government really needs to function today, it needs to perform; it’s a matter of life and death. Government wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing and I cannot be the cause of that, because New York tough means New York loving. And I love New York, and I love you, and everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way.
“And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let the government get back to governing and therefore that’s what I do, because I work for you,” Gov. Cuomo said.
Per the New York State Constitution, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be sworn in to succeed Cuomo and will serve the rest of his term, through December 31, 2022. A statement from Hochul Tuesday:
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.
As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.“
Cuomo, 63, was first elected as the 56th governor of New York in 2010 and is currently in his third term.
Last year the governor received an International Emmy award for his once-daily televised briefings on the coronavirus pandemic that killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers this spring.
Gov. Cuomo is not the first governor of New York to resign. There have been eight governors of New York who resigned; six who resigned to take another office and two who resigned following allegations of misconduct.
- 2008: Eliot Spitzer (D), who was elected in 2006, resigned amid allegations of misconduct. David Paterson (D) succeeded him.
- 1973: Nelson Rockefeller (R), who was first elected in 1958, resigned after he was nominated as Vice President of the United States by President Gerald Ford (R). Malcolm Wilson (R) succeeded him.
- 1942: Herbert H. Lehman (D), who was first elected in 1932, resigned after he was appointed as director of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations. Charles Poletti (D) served the remaining month of Lehman’s term.
- 1913: William Sulzer (D), who was elected the previous year, resigned after impeachment proceedings were opened against him stemming from allegations that he had committed campaign finance fraud. Martin H. Glynn (D) succeeded him.
- 1910: Charles Evans Hughes (R), who was first elected in 1906, resigned after he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by President William Howard Taft (R). Horace White (R) served the remaining three months of Hughes’ gubernatorial term. Hughes served on the Court until 1916 and was appointed to the Court a second time as Chief Justice, serving from 1930 to 1941.
- 1885: Grover Cleveland (D), who was first elected in 1882, resigned after winning election as President of the United States the previous year. David Bennett Hill (D) succeeded Cleveland and won election to two full terms in 1885 and 1888. Cleveland was defeated in his 1888 presidential re-election bid but won re-election in 1892, becoming the only president in U.S. history to serve two non-consecutive terms.
- 1829: Martin Van Buren (D), who had been elected the previous year, resigned after two months in office after he was appointed U.S. Secretary of State by President Andrew Jackson (D). Enos T. Throop (D) succeeded Van Buren and won election to a full term in 1830.
- 1817: Daniel D. Tompkins (Democratic-Republican), who was first elected in 1807, resigned after winning election as Vice President of the United States on a ticket with James Monroe (Democratic-Republican) the previous year. John Tayler (Democratic-Republican) served the remaining four months of Tompkins’ term.
Despite his resignation announcement, the governor challenged the findings of the report.
“The report said I sexually harassed 11 women: That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The reaction was outrage, as it should have been. However, it was also false.”
The governor said the are “serious” issues and flaws with how the report was compiled and presented, saying there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and sexual harassment.
“This is not to say there are not 11 women who I truly offended,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There are, and for that I deeply apologize. I thought a hug, or putting my arm around a staffer while taking a picture, but some found it to be too friendly. I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding and I thought it to be nice, but she found it to be too aggressive. Women found it dated and offensive. I said on national TV to a woman, to a doctor wearing PPE, and giving me a nasal swab, I said ‘you make that gown look good.’ I was joking, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it on national TV, but she found it disrespectful and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
The governor said his interactions were not meant to be taken sexually or with intimacy, but attributed his behavior to generational and cultural shifts.
“There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate and I should have — no excuses,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor has consistently denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately. His attorney, Rita Glavin, held a press conference earlier Tuesday where she challenged the credibility of the report, and said it omitted evidence.
Gov. Cuomo’s full resignation announcement
Rita Glavin Tuesday press conference
“The report omitted evidence that undermined the narrative that began on day one of this investigation,” Glavin said. “This was not about an independent review of the allegations and the circumstances surround them. From day one, this was about building a case against Gov. Cuomo. It fails to collect evidence. The investigators credited people that they know had lied in the past, or had motives to lie, and they didn’t report or explore this.”
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
People interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, State troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor. They also reviewed more than 74,000 piece of evidence, including documents, emails, text messages, audio files and pictures.
If he doesn’t resign, it’s increasingly looking like he could be impeached and removed from office — something that hasn’t happened to the state’s governor in nearly 108 years.
The committee of lawmakers tasked with investigating whether there are grounds to impeach Gov. Cuomo met with lawyers on Monday to discuss the next steps.
The governor’s top aide, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, resigned late Sunday.
DeRosa, who had been one of Cuomo’s most fierce defenders and strategists, said in a statement that serving the people of New York had been “the greatest honor of my life,” but she added that “Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.