WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden called on Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Tuesday, following an official report that said Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
“He should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Asked whether Cuomo should be removed from office if he refuses to resign, Biden said, “I understand the state legislature may decide to impeach, I do not know that for a fact.”
Shortly after Biden’s response, New York State House Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, announced that the chamber would seek to quickly conclude its impeachment inquiry into the governor.
In calling on Cuomo to step down, Biden joined nearly every other major Democratic lawmaker in both Albany and Washington. But from atop the party leadership, Biden’s demand carries more weight than others.
Cuomo’s press office did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC on the president’s remarks.
The report released Tuesday by state Attorney General Letitia James summarized a monthslong probe by concluding that Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said at a press conference.
A somber but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of those allegations later Tuesday, and said that other examples of his alleged misconduct had been mischaracterized or misinterpreted.
The 165-page report, which comprises interviews with 179 witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents, also said that Cuomo’s office was riddled with fear and intimidation, and was a hostile work environment for many staffers.
The women Cuomo is accused of harassing included members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a state trooper, the report found.
The wave of demands that Cuomo resign Tuesday represented a stunning fall from grace for a politician who made no secret of his national ambitions, and was widely seen as a potential 2024 Democratic presidential nominee should Biden decide not to run for re-election.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuomo maintained close relationships with first the Trump administration and later the Biden administration.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joseph Biden embrace following a luncheon honoring motorcycle riders participating in the 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in New York.
Bryan R. Smith | AP
The president’s response came four months after Biden said that if an investigation confirmed allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo, then the governor should step down.
Biden said Tuesday that he stood by his March statement.
“I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too,” Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired March 16.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House’s message to Cuomo’s accusers was that all women who “have lived through this type of experience … deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”
“I don’t know that anyone could have watched [James’ press conference] this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent— I know I certainly did,” said Psaki.
The findings revealed “a deeply disturbing, yet clear, picture,” James said, describing Cuomo’s office as “a toxic workplace.”