At least 59 New York State Democrats have now called for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign saying he has ‘lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature’ after six women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
The group of Senate and Assembly Democrats released a statement Thursday morning demanding Cuomo stand down and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in the interests of ‘the future of New York State’.
To date, Cuomo has vowed he will not resign but the damning letter now means more than half of all Democrats in the state Senate want him out which – if they join with the state Republicans – means the threshold has been passed to pursue impeachment.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who is a longstanding rival of the governor’s, also joined calls Thursday for him to resign saying ‘he can no longer serve as governor’ amid the ‘disgusting’ allegations.
This comes as a sixth woman – and fifth former aide whose identity has not yet been made public – came forward this week to accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct.
In what is the most damning accusation leveled at Cuomo to date, the woman claims he called her to his Executive Mansion last year, where he reached under her blouse and fondled her.
The mounting allegations come as the governor continues to face accusations of a cover-up of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes after a directive meant infected patients were sent back to facilities at the peak of the crisis.
At least 59 New York State Democrats have now called for Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured Tuesday) to resign saying he has ‘lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature’
In a joint statement, the group of 59 State Democrats branded Cuomo’s leadership ‘ineffective’ following his ‘admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths.’
The group urged Cuomo, who just months ago won an Emmy for his COVID-19 press briefings, to ‘put the people of New York first’ as the state continues to battle the pandemic.
‘As legislators and as New Yorkers we all must decide what is best for the future of New York State. The budget, the fight against COVID-19, and restarting the economy all demand clear and trustworthy leadership,’ the statement read.
‘In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need.’
Attorney General Letitia James announced last Monday she was formally launching an independent investigation into the sexual harassment accusations after she received a referral letter from Cuomo’s office.
At the time, two women had accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. Since then, four more women have come forward with allegations.
The state Democrats said they had confidence in James’ leading the investigation.
‘Attorney General James has made clear that her independent investigation will continue and has already made an excellent choice in those picked to lead the investigation,’ they wrote.
The group of Senate and Assembly Democrats released a statement Thursday morning demanding Cuomo stand down and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in the interests of ‘the future of New York State’. Pictured the letter
‘We are fully confident in the Attorney General’s ability to investigate this matter thoroughly, and know that no change in state executive leadership will impede or affect her office’s important work. We are deeply grateful for her clear-eyed and unwavering leadership.
‘In the meantime, the Governor needs to put the people of New York first. We have a Lieutenant Governor who can step in and lead for the remainder of the term, and this is what is best for New Yorkers in this critical time.’
It concluded: ‘It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.’
The letter was signed by 40 Democrats from the New York State Assembly and 19 New York Democratic senators, meaning more than half of Democrats in the New York State Senate are now calling for Cuomo’s resignation.
In total, 76 Assembly votes are needed to send the case to an impeachment court, made up of senators and state appeals court judges.
With 40 Democratic members of the Assembly calling for his resignation, they need only join forces with 36 of the 43 Republican assembly members to pass the threshold for impeachment proceedings to be launched.
It is not clear if all members of the group will move to impeach if he does not heed their calls to resign.
However, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, whose office has the power to start impeachment proceedings against the embattled governor, announced soon after the letter was released he was meeting with state assembly members later Thursday to discuss next steps.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (pictured), whose office has the power to start impeachment, said he was meeting with members on ‘potential paths forward’
‘In light of the allegations concerning the Governor over the last several weeks, I will be meeting with members in conference today on potential paths forward,’ he said.
New York Republican senators also released a statement calling Cuomo a ‘distraction’ and voicing their support for impeachment.
‘The Governor’s office is under a cloud of multiple scandals and ongoing investigations,’ they said.
‘New Yorkers need a leader to focus on the important work facing this state, but the ability of this Governor to be anything but a distraction is damaged beyond repair.
‘He must resign for the good of all New Yorkers. If the Governor does not resign, the next step is impeachment.’
Mayor de Blasio publicly called for Cuomo’s resignation for the first time in his daily press briefing Thursday.
When asked if, following the latest allegation, he was now ready to publicly call for Cuomo’s resignation, the mayor let out a sigh, before adding: ‘Yeah’.
‘The latest report, and the fact that we can talk about how many people have been come forward with accusations. It’s not one, it’s not two, it’s not three, it’s not four, it’s not five – it’s six women who have come forward,’ he said.
‘It’s deeply troubling, the specific allegation that the governor called an employee of his – someone who he had power over – he called them to a place and then sexually assaulted her is absolutely unacceptable.
‘It’s is disgusting to me. He can no longer serve as governor. It’s as simple as that.’
De Blasio continued that, over the last few weeks, ‘so many troubling things’ have emerged about Cuomo, with not only five other women accusing him of sexual harassment or misconduct, but also the controversy surrounding the nursing home scandal and alleged cover-up.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday directly called for Andrew Cuomo’s resignation for the first time
Senator Chuck Schumer announced a massive COVID vaccine push in New York City on Thursday as he took a swipe at Cuomo amid calls for his resignation
‘We still don’t have the truth about that,’ he said of nursing home deaths. ‘And their families need and deserve to know the truth.
‘We know one thing: We know there was a purposeful cover-up and that alone I unacceptable and disqualifying.
‘These six women have come forward with these powerful and painful stories – and particularly this most recent report is just disqualifying. He just can’t serve as governor anymore,’ de Blasio concluded.
His comments Thursday mark the first time de Blasio has publicly called for Cuomo to resign over the allegations, having continuously skirted the question during other recent briefings.
House Majority Leader and New York’s top Democrat Chuck Schumer also appeared to make a swipe at Cuomo Thursday as he praised de Blasio’s vaccine rollout and announced he would be sidestepping Albany in sending funds directly to the Big Apple.
Schumer announced a massive COVID vaccine push in New York City on Thursday which will dig into the $32billion allocated in the COVID relief bill in December to establish 100 vaccination sites in community health centers.
The New York Senator also promised an injection of $6billion in local aid through stimulus checks and funding for the MTA as he praised NYC’s mayor Bill de Blasio and promised Big Apple residents ‘help is on the way’.
In what appeared to be a thinly-veiled swipe at Cuomo, Schumer said the money would be directed straight to the city and not funneled through the state legislature in Albany.
This comes as a sixth woman – and fifth former aide whose identity has not yet been made public – came forward this week to accuse Cuomo of sexual misconduct. In what is the most damning accusation leveled at Cuomo to date, the woman claims he called her to his Executive Mansion (pictured) last year, where he reached under her blouse and fondled her
Cuomo said this week he was apologizing to ‘people’ who were uncomfortable with his conduct but insisted he has never ‘touched anyone’ inappropriately.
‘I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,’ Cuomo said.
‘It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it.’
On Saturday, Karen Hinton, 62, and Ana Liss, 35, made their separate allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo.
Hinton told the Washington Post about a 2000 incident when she said Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event.
She said she tried to pull away from Cuomo when he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room.
Cuomo said Sunday Hinton’s allegations were ‘not true’ and labeled her a ‘long-time political adversary of mine’.
Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.
Cuomo said Sunday: ‘There is no way I resign. Let the attorney general do the investigation and go from there.’
Ana Liss, 35, (left) previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015 but claims he subjected her to sexual misconduct during her time in his administration. Karen Hinton (right) claims the governor summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape
Charlotte Bennett, 25, worked as an aide for Cuomo. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her ‘terrified’
Anna Ruch, 33, (left) claimed Cuomo behaved inappropriately at a Manhattan wedding in September 2019. Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and leg
‘There’s money for the MTA, there’s money for our schools, and there is money for New York City,’ Schumer, the Majority Senate leader, said as he appeared with de Blasio during the Mayor’s Thursday morning press conference.
‘With the mayor’s guidance and a little bit of prodding, we made sure that money doesn’t come through Albany, it goes directly to the city because when Albany gets the money sometimes the city doesn’t see all of it.’
During a radio interview Schumer also called the new claim against Cuomo ‘nauseating,’ but he has not joined calls for the governor to step down.
The mounting calls for Cuomo to leave office come after a sixth accuser came forward saying he groped her in the governor’s residence, marking the most serious allegation against him to date.
The woman, who has not been named publicly, says Cuomo called her to the Executive Mansion in Albany late last year, saying he needed help with his cellphone, the Times Union of Albany reported Wednesday.
Once there, Cuomo allegedly closed the door, reached under her shirt and fondled her.
The newspaper’s reporting is based on an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the aide’s accusation.
Cuomo denied the allegations in a statement Wednesday evening saying ‘I have never done anything like this’ and calling the claims ‘gut-wrenching.’
‘As I said yesterday, I have never done anything like this. The details of this report are gut-wrenching,’ Cuomo said through a spokesperson Wednesday evening.
‘I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the Attorney General’s report.’
Lindsey Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment.
She worked for Cuomo’s team from March 2015 to October 2018 and recounted her story of sexual harassment in the series of Twitter posts.
She then elaborated on her accusations in a February 24 blog post in which she said Cuomo once suggested a game of strip poker.
Boylan claims the unwanted advances included an unsolicited kiss on the lips in Cuomo’s New York City office. The governor has denied these allegations.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, became the second woman to come forward.
A third accuser, Anna Ruch, 33, then came forward telling the NYT that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding.
The bombshell claims come amid the ongoing COVID-19 nursing home deaths scandal
The governor added that he will not be ‘distracted’ from tackling the pandemic by the allegations.
The bombshell claims come amid the ongoing COVID-19 nursing home deaths scandal.
On Friday, his office was forced to deny claims his aides massaged the data on the deaths back in July in order to hide the true extent of the crisis after a bombshell report this week claimed Cuomo’s office asked the state health department to change its definition of COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Insiders told The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times Thursday that state health officials had originally included nursing home residents who died after being transported to hospitals in the tally of deaths in long-term care facilities in a report given to Cuomo’s office in July.
They said Cuomo’s top aides requested the state health department remove the hospital deaths from the figures before the report was made public.
This revision resulted in the report detailing 6,432 nursing home deaths up to that point – a significant undercount of the actual death toll and down from the almost 10,000 which were included in the initial version of the report.
Cuomo’s most senior aides allegedly did not want to make that number public as the governor was under fire for an earlier directive that ordered infected patients to be sent back to facilities.
The true number of deaths among nursing home residents only became clear this year following a review by the state attorney general.