The governors of four neighboring states said Tuesday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should step down after an independent investigation found the three-term Democrat had sexually harassed 11 women, nine of them current or former state employees.
In a terse statement, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee — all Democrats — said they were “appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General.
“Governor Cuomo should resign from office,” they added.
The governors joined a chorus of Democrats — including President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio — demanding Cuomo step aside following the release of the bombshell report by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The statement represents a turnabout for Murphy and Lamont, who worked closely with Cuomo throughout last year in coordinating a regional response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo’s handling of the outbreak is part of a legislative impeachment investigation, specifically his policy mandating nursing homes accept COVID patients, as well as the $5.1 million book deal the governor received for his pandemic-era memoir “American Crisis.” The Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office is also conducting its own inquiry into both the nursing home policy and the book deal.
The report released Tuesday detailed how Cuomo, in the words of James, engaged in “unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and making inappropriate comments.” The AG added that investigators’ interviews of 179 witnesses “revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture” of the governor’s behavior.
Cuomo, who has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and suggested that the investigation is politically motivated and biased against him, defied calls to resign Tuesday while insisting that he had “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
The governor’s response included a surreal slideshow of photos of him touching or kissing the faces of men, women and children at public events over the years as he claimed his accusers had “sought to unfairly characterize and weaponize everyday interactions that I’ve had with any number of New Yorkers.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said in a statement Tuesday that Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and … can no longer remain in office.
“Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General,” Heastie added, “we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”