In what can only be called “I surely didn’t see this coming,” usually smug New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo solemnly announced that he would be resigning from office after a scathing report from the state’s attorney general concluded that the Democrat sexually harassed 11 women.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government and therefore, that’s what I’ll do,” Cuomo said Tuesday, NPR reports.
“This transition must be seamless,” Cuomo said, noting that his Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul would take over the vacated position. “She can come up to speed quickly.”
Hochul will be the state’s first female governor.
Cuomo’s transition from office will take 14 days and marks a stunning departure from the asshole-ish responses the governor has been offering since being hit with allegations that he was wildly inappropriate while in office.
But it was the allegations of harassment that precipitated the once unthinkable prospect of Cuomo’s resignation. The 165-page report released last week followed a months-long investigation into Cuomo’s actions and outlined what New York Attorney General Letitia James called violations of both state and federal law. Prosecutors said their findings substantiated allegations from several women — allegations that included unwanted and nonconsensual touching and sexual comments.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” James said upon the report’s release. “No man – no matter how powerful – can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights.”
Since February, at least seven women have come forward to recount unwelcome interactions with Cuomo, including several former aides.
One woman, Jessica Bakeman, wrote about her experiences while trying to cover the governor as a statehouse reporter several years ago. Bakeman wrote about how the governor used his power over women to invade their personal space and demean them. It was a different kind of bullying than her male counterparts endured.
From Bakeman’s New York Magazine essay published in March:
I never thought the governor wanted to have sex with me. It wasn’t about sex. It was about power. He wanted me to know that I was powerless, that I was small and weak, that I did not deserve what relative power I had: a platform to hold him accountable for his words and actions. He wanted me to know that he could take my dignity away at any moment with an inappropriate comment or a hand on my waist. (The Cuomo administration has declined to comment.)
It’s not that Cuomo spares men in his orbit from his trademark bullying and demeaning behavior. But the way he bullies and demeans women is different. He uses touching and sexual innuendo to stoke fear in us. That is the textbook definition of sexual harassment.
Bakeman’s report was just one of several accounts of Cuomo reportedly groping women, including Anna Ruch, who told the New York Times in March that she met Cuomo during a wedding reception in September 2019. Ruch claimed that Cuomo touched her bare back and when she removed his hands, he grabbed her face and asked her for a kiss. A photographer caught the interaction and Ruch shared the photos with the Times.
Despite calls from Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, for Cuomo to step down, the governor remained indignant, claiming that his version of accounts were very different from what his accusers had described and that most of his actions were “misunderstood.”
Members of the state’s congressional delegation followed suit in calling for Cuomo’s resignation, “including Reps. Jerry Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So too did the state’s two senators—Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand,” NPR reports.
President Biden noted in March that Cuomo should resign if the investigation finds that the women’s allegations are true.
“I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too,” Biden said, NBC News reports.