ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he is resigning from his position in light of sexual harassment allegations made against him.
Cuomo made the announcement at a press briefing in which he apologized for his actions and said, “I accept full responsibility.”
Cuomo said wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing, and he doesn’t want to be the cause of that.
“‘New York tough’ means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you, and everything that I have ever done has been motivated by that love, and I would never want to be unhelpful in any way,” said Cuomo. “And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing.”
Cuomo said his resignation will take effect in two weeks, in which time Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will take over as governor. She'll be the first woman to hold the office.
In a tweet, Hochul said she agrees with Cuomo's decision and is prepared to lead the state.
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.
— Kathy Hochul (@LtGovHochulNY) August 10, 2021
The resignation of the three-term Democratic governor comes a week after independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James released their report into multiple allegations of sexual harassment by the 63-year-old politician.
In the report, investigators concluded that Cuomo sexually harasses multiple women, including former and current state employees, by engaging in unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging, as well as making inappropriate comments.
Following the release of the report, Cuomo faced calls to step down as governor, including from top Democratic leaders, like President Joe Biden. The state assembly also threatened impeachment.
When asked about Cuomo at a press conference Tuesday, Biden said, "I respect the governor's decision and I respect the decision he made." The president added that he believes Cuomo did a "hell of a job" as governor, and "that's why it's sad" that his behavior caused his downfall.
Cuomo addressed the report in his comments Tuesday, saying there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment.
“Now, don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that there are not 11 women that I truly offended. There are and for that, I deeply, deeply apologize,” said Cuomo.
The governor addressed some of the specific allegations made against him.
“I thought a hug and putting my arm around a staff person while taking a picture was friendly, but she found it to be too forward. I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding and I thought I was being nice, but she felt it was too aggressive,” he said. “I have slipped and called people ‘honey,’ ‘sweetheart,’ and ‘darling.’ I meant to be endearing, but women found it dated and offensive. I said on national TV to a doctor wearing PPE and giving me a COVID nasal swab, ‘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. I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Attorney general James tweeted that Cuomo's resignation "closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice."
I know our state is in good hands with Lieutenant Governor Hochul at the helm, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) August 10, 2021
Cuomo's resignation is considered a fall from grace because just the year before, he was widely celebrated for his detailed daily briefings and leadership during some of the darkest days of COVID-19.