- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign late Friday, hours after he refused to quit, an ominous development for the governor on a day in which most of the state’s congressional Democrats abandoned him in a burgeoning sexual harassment scandal.

In a joint statement, the powerful Democratic senators said their state needs new leadership in Albany. They said they believe the allegations leveled by six women against Mr. Cuomo.

“Confronting and overcoming the COVID crisis requires sure and study leadership,” they said. “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.”

The swift abandonment of Mr. Cuomo by most of his party appeared to be a political death knell, although he vowed earlier Friday in a press call to stay on the job. 

“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion, are in my opinion reckless and dangerous,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters. “People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth.”

The Democratic governor vowed again, “I’m not going to resign. I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone.”

He specifically denied the latest allegation of a current aide who said Mr. Cuomo groped her at the governor’s mansion after she was summoned there late last year. 

Given the response by Mr. Schumer and Ms. Gillibrand, Mr. Cuomo appeared to have done himself no favors in his defiant press conference. He explained away his actions at one point by saying that he naturally touches people when they desire to be in photographs with him.

The walls have been closing in on Mr. Cuomo all week. The New York Assembly announced on Thursday that it will conduct an impeachment investigation of Mr. Cuomo’s actions. 

State Attorney General Letitia James also is conducting an independent probe.

Mr. Cuomo is also facing a federal investigation into allegations that his administration covered up the number of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes.

The spiraling developments were a breathtakingly rapid fall in stature for a governor who won an Emmy last year for his televised COVID briefings. The media at the time portrayed him as a positive alternative leader to then-President Donald Trump during the worst of the pandemic. The governor seized on his popularity at the time to write a book about it.

Mr. Cuomo was responding in his press conference Friday to the news that at least 13 House Democrats from New York, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called on him to resign in a wave earlier in the day.

“The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Mr. Nadler said. “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.”

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney also was among those urging Mr. Cuomo to step down. The others are Reps. Jamal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Grace Meng, Yvette Clark, Adriano Espaillat, Nydia Velasquez and Anthony Delgado.

“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Bowman said in a joint statement.

The governor replied, “There is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period. I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives.”

He said as a former state attorney general, he knows “there are often many motivations for making an allegation. That is why you need to know the facts.”

Mr. Schumer and Ms. Gillibrand had been holding out in their calls for the governor to resign, as the accusations against him kept mounting. Their reluctance had brought accusations of hypocrisy against them.

Two years ago, Ms. Gillibrand had defended her role in demanding the resignation of Sen. Al Franken for alleged sexual harassment, dismissing concerns that she led a rush to judgment of her Democratic colleague without an investigation.

“I’d do it again,” Ms. Gillibrand told an interviewer.

But she had been mum on the subject of the governor’s resignation until late Friday.

She said earlier that Mr. Cuomo’s alleged behavior is “completely unacceptable.”

“I think there should be an investigation by the [state] attorney general I think these allegations are serious,” Ms. Gillibrand told WRBG in Albany last week.

Pressed on what it would take for her to call for the governor’s resignation, she said only, “I’ve been clear on my position.”

Ms. Gilliband also demanded in 2018 that the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh be pulled due to decades-old sexual harassment allegations against him, saying they were “disqualifying.”

Mr. Schumer of New York also was instrumental in forcing Mr. Franken to quit in 2017.

But Ms. Gillibrand, in particular, has forged a reputation as a leader of the “#metoo” movement. Some political observers say her reluctance to call out Mr. Cuomo was a tacit admission that she went too far, too fast in Mr. Franken’s case.

Cuomo accuser Lindsey Boylan said Friday that she planned to launch a political action committee to fund a primary opponent for Mr. Schumer, who is up for reelection next year, and Ms. Gillibrand, who will be up for reelection in 2025.

Ms. Gillibrand said earlier that putting the focus on her to pass judgment on Mr. Cuomo is sexist.

“Asking every female elected in our state when a person should resign or not resign really isn’t the conversation we should be having,” she told Yahoo Finance. “It’s exceedingly frustrating because so many men who are also in public leadership aren’t asked these questions day today. The women in our state are not meant to be judges, jurors and executioners.”

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