Andrew Cuomo unveiled a photo montage on Tuesday showing him hugging and kissing numerous public figures including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Al Sharpton – which the New York governor says is proof that he didn’t sexually harass women.
‘I’ve been making the same public gesture all my life. I actually learnt it from my mother and my father,’ a defiant Cuomo said on Tuesday, referring to the late New York Governor Mario Cuomo and his widow, Matilda Cuomo.
State Attorney General Letitia James announced the findings of her investigation into claims Cuomo harassed more than 10 women.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday refused to resign after a damning report by the State Attorney General’s Office accused him of sexually harassing multiple women
Cuomo unveiled a photo montage on Tuesday showing him hugging and kissing numerous public figures including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Al Sharpton
The montage shows the governor hugging, kissing, and greeting powerful people and constituents. Cuomo says these ‘everyday interactions’ are how he is accustomed to behaving and that there was no malicious intent
The probe found that the Democratic governor sexually harassed multiple women in and out of state government and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.
The finding quickly renewed calls for the Democrat’s resignation or impeachment.
Cuomo remained defiant on Tuesday following the investigation’s findings, saying that ‘the facts are much different than what has been portrayed’ and appearing to reject calls to resign.
The nearly five-month investigation found that Cuomo’s administration was a ‘hostile work environment’ and was ‘rife with fear and intimidation.’
The probe, conducted by two outside lawyers, involved interviews with 179 people including Cuomo’s accusers, current and former administration employees and the governor himself.
In response to James’ news conference, Cuomo released a videotaped statement in which he denied the allegations.
The governor specifically mentioned the allegations brought forward by Anna Ruch.
Ruch was a guest at a wedding, as was the governor, in 2019 when she says he put his hands on a section of her back that was exposed by a cut-out in her dress.
The governor on Tuesday specifically mentioned the allegations brought forward by Anna Ruch. Anna Ruch, now 33, met Andrew Cuomo at her friends’ wedding in September 2019. He was photographed cupping her face
A third woman has accused Governor Cuomo of unwanted touching and sexual attention, saying he placed his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her at her friend’s wedding. A friend took a series of pictures of the incident as it occurred. https://t.co/bgvzBK4vK0 pic.twitter.com/hXvgTvSntQ
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) March 2, 2021
Cuomo said on Tuesday that grabbing a person’s face and kissing them was a gesture he learned from his parents. The governor is seen above with his mother, Matilda Cuomo
Cuomo’s montage also included a photo of him with his late father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo
She grabbed his wrist to move it away and he responded by saying ‘wow, you’re aggressive,’ according to the report.
Cuomo then grabbed her face with both of his hands and said ‘can I kiss you?’
He was pictured kissing her cheek.
Ruch, 33, told The New York Times earlier this year that she met Cuomo at a wedding in September 2019.
The governor, now 63, had given a toast to the newlyweds, and Ruch, a former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign, thanked him for his words.
She claimed that he then touched her naked back, and she removed his hand.
He said she was ‘aggressive’, then cupped her face in his hands and asked: ‘Can I kiss you?’
A photographer captured the moment, with Ruch looking distressed and taken aback, while Cuomo stares intently at her.
‘I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,’ said Ruch.
‘I turned my head away and didn’t have words in that moment.’
Cuomo, who served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration, is seen above planting a kiss on the cheek of former Vice President Al Gore
‘It is meant to convey warmth, nothing more,’ Cuomo says of the touching and kissing
‘Indeed, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of me using the exact same gesture,’ the governor said
Several more images flash on the screen of Cuomo touching and greeting constituents, like the one above
‘I do it with everyone – black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ,’ the governor said
The photo montage included an image of the governor getting close to the Reverend Al Sharpton
She told The New York Times: ‘It’s the act of impunity that strikes me.
‘I didn’t have a choice in that matter. I didn’t have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that’s what infuriates me.’
After the encounter, Ruch said her friend ‘looked at me and said, “Are you OK?” with such genuine concern in her face that I realized how obviously inappropriate it was.’
Later, she tried to find the governor at the reception to give him a piece of her mind but couldn’t track him down.
‘I would have rather just said it that night,’ Ruch said.
‘I wanted to say, “That wasn’t OK”.’
She added: ‘I felt so uncomfortable and embarrassed when really he is the one who should have been embarrassed.’
Cuomo is seen above touching the chin of a war veteran during a public appearance
‘I do kiss people on the cheek,’ Cuomo said. The clip then cuts to more photos of Cuomo kissing well-known figures on the cheek
Cuomo’s montage included another image of him planting a kiss on his mother’s forehead
The image above shows the governor playfully grasping the chin of an unidentified person
The image above shows Cuomo greeting actor Robert DeNiro
Cuomo showed another image of him planting a kiss on the cheek of a woman during a public appearance
What next for Andrew Cuomo?
It looks like checkmate for Andrew Cuomo as pressure grows on him to step down despite his desperate attempts to cling on to power.
Senior Democrats including President Joe Biden are pushing for Cuomo to resign, with some looking to impeach the embattled politician.
New York state assembly speaker Carl Heastie, who launched an impeachment inquiry in March, said Cuomo has ‘lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority’ and ‘can no longer remain in office’, according to CNN.
If Cuomo tries to cling on to power rather than step down, he will likely face an impeachment probe.
Impeachment would be carried out by the New York state assembly which is made up of 150 lawmakers.
Only a majority of votes is needed for impeachment for ‘misconduct of malversation’, according to the state constitution.
The assembly’s makeup is overwhelmingly Democrat, with 106 out of 150 seats, and a majority of 76 votes needed for impeachment.
If impeached, Cuomo would be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
A trial would then be held by the New York senate where Democrats hold 43 of 63 seats and a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.
If convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office, but if he is found not guilty, he could return to being governor.
An impeachment probe launched in March is still ongoing and are meeting to decide whether to proceed or draft articles in other areas of Cuomo’s leadership relating to the nursing homes Covid scandal, cover-up allegations over the Mario Cuomo Bridge, and claims of using state resources for personal gain.
So far, Cuomo has insisted he has done nothing wrong and has made no moves to step down as he desperately tries to cling on to power.
Ruch told The New York Post that the photo of Cuomo clutching her face speaks for itself.
‘The photo pretty much sums it up. Gross. What the f–k?,’ she said, adding: ‘Every woman has to go through this in the 21st century.’
Cuomo on Tuesday blasted The New York Times for running a photo of the kiss on the front page.
‘That is not front page news,’ Cuomo says.
The video then cuts to old photographs of Cuomo being kissed and touched by his parents as the governor narrates.
‘It is meant to convey warmth, nothing more,’ Cuomo says of the touching and kissing.
‘Indeed, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of me using the exact same gesture.’
Several more images flash on the screen of Cuomo touching and greeting constituents.
‘I do it with everyone – black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ,’ the governor says.
Cuomo then shows photos of him greeting ‘powerful people’ including former President Bill Clinton, the late Congressman Charlie Rangel, former Vice President Al Gore, actor Robert DeNiro, and others.
The governor says he uses the gesture with ‘friends, strangers, [and] people who I meet on the street.’
Cuomo then noted that Ruch told the press that she ‘took offense at the gesture.’
‘And for that, I apologize,’ the governor said.
Cuomo then alluded to another allegation from a different woman who claimed the governor ‘kissed her on the forehead’ and said ‘Ciao, bella.’
Translated from the Italian, ‘Ciao, bella’ means ‘Hello, beautiful.’
‘I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure that I did,’ the governor said, adding: ‘I do kiss people on the forehead.’
‘I do kiss people on the cheek,’ Cuomo said. The clip then cuts to more photos of Cuomo kissing well-known figures on the cheek.
The governor is seen with his mother, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and other constituents and supporters.
‘I do kiss people on the hand, I do embrace people, I do hug people,’ Cuomo said.
Cuomo included a photo above showing the governor grabbing a young boy’s face
James, the attorney general, is seen far left in a photo showing Cuomo being kissed on the cheek by an unidentified man
Cuomo greets a Jewish man during a public appearance in the above undated file photo
The governor is seen above comforting a woman in the above undated file photo
Cuomo is seen above embracing a man at a church in the above undated file photo
Cuomo is seen above hugging and kissing a woman during a public appearance
Cuomo cups the hand of a young girl during a public appearance in the above undated file photo
‘I do kiss people on the hand, I do embrace people, I do hug people,’ Cuomo said
The image above shows Cuomo playfully kissing and grabbing the neck of an unidentified person
‘I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that, frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated, and I have learned from this,’ Cuomo (seen above kissing a woman’s hand) said
Cuomo said that he and his team would undergo training on new ‘sexual harassment policies and procedures’ to prevent the sort of misunderstandings that he claims arose from these encounters with women
‘I do on occasion say “Ciao, bella”.’
Cuomo added: ‘On occasion, I do slip and say “Sweetheart”.’
‘I am the same person in public as I am in private,’ the governor said.
‘I try to put people at ease,’ Cuomo continued. ‘I try to make them smile and I try to connect with them.
‘I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that, frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated, and I have learned from this.’
Cuomo said that he and his team would undergo training on new ‘sexual harassment policies and procedures’ to prevent the sort of misunderstandings that he claims arose from these encounters with women.
‘I accept responsibility and we are making changes,’ the governor said.