Joe Biden calls on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over sexual harassment allegations
“As always, I congratulate the women who came forward to speak their truth,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Recognizing his love for New York and respect for the position he holds, I ask the Governor to resign.”
The New York Democratic Congressional delegation has also called for Cuomo’s resignation, The hill has reported.
“We congratulate the brave women who stepped forward and spoke the truth to power,” said a joint statement. “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and step down.”
Cuomo remained defiant after the investigation’s findings, saying “the facts are very different from what has been described” and apparently rejecting calls to resign.
The nearly five-month investigation found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and was “fraught with fear and intimidation.” The investigation, conducted by two outside attorneys, involved interviews with 179 people, including Cuomo’s accusers, current and former administration employees, and the governor himself.
Labor attorney Anne Clark, who led the investigation with former federal prosecutor Joon Kim, said they found 11 accusers to be credible, noting that the allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other contemporary witnesses and text messages.
“These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing but clear picture: Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a conference call. press.
The research findings, detailed in a 165-page public reportIncrease the pressure on the 63-year-old governor, who just a year ago was widely hailed for his steadfast leadership during the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis, even writing a book about it.
Since then, he has seen his position crumble with a drumming of harassment allegations, questions in a separate and ongoing investigation into whether state resources were used to write the book, and the discovery that his administration concealed the true number of deaths in homes. of elderly people during the outbreak.
Although James’s investigation was concluded without any referral to criminal prosecutors, local authorities could decide to use his evidence and findings to mount their own cases. The report is also expected to play an important role in an ongoing investigation in the State Assembly into whether there are grounds for Cuomo to be indicted.
Several of Cuomo’s accusers demanded faster action and asked the governor to step down immediately. Some Democratic and Republican state legislators joined them, along with former Cuomo allies, including county executives and leaders of left-wing political groups.
“Quit, @NYGovCuomo,” tweeted accuser Charlotte Bennett.
On at least one occasion, according to the investigation, Cuomo and his senior staff worked to retaliate against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing. Cuomo was also found to have harassed women outside of government, according to the investigation.
The report details, for the first time, allegations that Cuomo sexually harassed a female state police officer on his security team. She said the governor ran his hand or fingers over her stomach and back, kissed her cheek, asked her for help finding a girlfriend, and asked why she wasn’t wearing a dress.
The report also included an allegation from a woman working for an energy company who said Cuomo inappropriately touched her at an event. The woman said Cuomo ran his fingers over the letters on his shirt, reading his company name aloud. He then leaned in and said, “I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” and ran his hand over her shoulder and breasts, according to the report.
“These brave women stepped forward to speak truth to power and, in doing so, expressed their faith in the belief that while the governor may be powerful, the truth is even more so,” Kim said at the press conference. .
Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or whom he met at public events. An aide in his office said he touched his chest.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips after a meeting in his office and that he would “do his best to touch my lower back, arms and legs.”
After Boylan first made his allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undermined her story by publishing staff memos to the media that revealed Boylan resigned after she was confronted over complaints she belittled and yelled at her. personal.
Boylan has said those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to defame me.”
Other attendees have said the governor asked them unwanted personal questions about sex and dating. A former assistant, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked her if she was willing to have sex with an older man.
“Some suffered unwanted touches and the grip of the most intimate parts of their body. Others suffered repeated offensive, sexually suggestive or gender-based comments, “Kim said Tuesday. “Several of them endured both. Neither of them welcomed him. And they all found it disturbing, humiliating, uncomfortable and inappropriate. “
In an 11-hour interview with investigators last month, Cuomo admitted certain behavior and denied other allegations, investigators said. For example, Clark said, she admitted to asking Bennett if she had been involved with older men and said she may have kissed state troopers at an event, but denied touching her.
When asked about an allegation that he grabbed a woman’s breast at the executive mansion, according to the report, Cuomo responded, “He would have to lose his mind to do such a thing” to a woman he barely knew with various members of the executive mansion. staff around.
Last winter there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo’s resignation from many of the top Democrats elected in New York, including two US senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. But Cuomo refused to resign and has been raising money for a fourth term.
His position on the accusations has also hardened into a challenge. Cuomo has always denied ever having touched someone inappropriately, but initially said he regretted that his behavior with women was “misinterpreted as unwanted flirting.” In recent months, he has taken a more combative tactic, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the motives of the accusers and critics.
It has also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired by the Attorney General to investigate the complaints. Kim, was involved in previous corruption investigations by individuals in the Cuomo administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. Cuomo hasn’t expressly said why he thinks that would make Kim biased.
In the hours before James’s announcement, Cuomo’s office issued numerous press releases, including the completion of mixed-use housing in Buffalo, plans to build a new $ 3.9 billion terminal at Kennedy Airport, and JetBlue’s decision. to keep its headquarters in New York. . As James spoke, Cuomo’s publicists released a statement about the reclamation of the old power plant sites.
The Assembly hired its own legal team to investigate Cuomo’s conduct, in addition to other allegations of wrongdoing. The legislature is investigating the help Cuomo received from senior advisers to write a book on the pandemic, the special access that Cuomo’s relatives gained to COVID-19 testing last year, and the administration’s decision to withhold some data. about deaths in public nursing homes for several months.
Some members of the judicial committee have said they expect James’s report to be “critical” to the impeachment inquiry.
New York State regulations say that sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, from unwanted flirting to sexual jokes, that creates an offensive work environment, regardless of the intent of the perpetrator.
The governor, on the other hand, has repeatedly argued that he did not intend to harass anyone. His office has said he took the state-mandated sexual harassment training, but has not provided any documentation to show that he did.
Cuomo defended a landmark 2019 state law that made it easier for victims of sexual harassment to prove their case in court. Alleged victims no longer have to meet the high standard of proving that sexual harassment is “severe and pervasive.”
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