After losing support from leaders from his party controlling both branches of the New York State Legislature, embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo has been asked to resign by no fewer than 10 Democratic members of the United States Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a previously quiet Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday.
“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership,” Schumer and Gillibrand wrote on Friday afternoon, after a torrent of 10 representatives’ calls for Cuomo to resign in the morning. “We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct. Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Their stunning joint statement followed similar announcements from 10 Democratic representatives from New York that arrived in a flood on Friday morning, capping off what might be described as Cuomo’s most politically damaging week of his three-term tenure.
Uniting the progressive left of the party and the mainstream leadership, the Empire State lawmakers ditching Cuomo include U.S. Representatives Nydia Velazquez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Grace Meng, Anthony Delgado and Jerry Nadler. Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Kathleen Rice, and Brian Higgins have also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign,” Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in a statement.
The stunning call by some of the most powerful members of Cuomo’s party signals a spectacular vote of no-confidence from state and federal lawmakers, some of whom held him up not long ago a face of national leadership responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
That image has become increasingly tarnished in the wake of the nursing home and sexual harassment scandals, as Cuomo fends off what appears to be an imminent impeachment process, an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct, growing calls for his resignation, and even a publisher making moves to bury his book about the COVID-19 crisis.
With a probe by New York State Attorney General Letitia James (D) ongoing, Cuomo has denounced calls for him to step down as an “anti-democratic” rush to judgment.
But Nadler noted that there is a difference between due process under the law and a mandate to govern.
“Although his accusers are credible and the charges against him are serious indeed, the investigations under way by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and the Albany police must be permitted to run their course before we reach judgment about his liability for any alleged criminal act. But there is a difference between formal investigations that may end in criminal charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership,” Nadler said. “The question before us is squarely a political judgment.”
As Cuomo hemorrhages political support, Attorney General James has kept him in hot pursuit since exposing the governor’s undercounting of nursing home deaths from COVID-19. She insisted on spearheading the investigation into the sexual harassment claims and appears to be pursuing a vigorous investigation led by a prosecutor with a history gunning for Cuomo.
Joon Kim, a former Manhattan U.S. Attorney and ex-deputy for Preet Bharara, helped convict Joseph Percoco, a man once known as Cuomo’s right-hand man who was found guilty of corruption. Six women, mostly former aides, have accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct, and the claims seemingly grow more serious by the day.
On Wednesday, the Times Union first reported on allegations that Cuomo “aggressively groped” an aide in a “sexually charged manner.”
New York Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie (D) announced opening steps toward Cuomo’s impeachment on Thursday evening, several days after the state’s Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D) asked Cuomo to resign.
Update—March 12 at 5:43 p.m. Central Time: This story has been updated to include calls from top Democratic senators joining their House colleagues in calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
Listen to this week’s episode of Law&Crime’s podcast “Objections” for the deep dive into Cuomo’s career:
[image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
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