Cuomo’s Resignation: Shock to Many, Relief to Some, Overdue to Others
On Tuesday morning, it seemed that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo might be preparing to dig in for a fight as he faced the prospect of impeachment and …
On Tuesday morning, it seemed that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo might be preparing to dig in for a fight as he faced the prospect of impeachment and criminal investigations into accusations of sexual harassment.
One of his lawyers, Rita Glavin, appeared on a video feed at about 11 a.m. and tried to poke holes in a report from New York’s attorney general that found Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, many of them current or former state employees.
Just before noon, after Ms. Glavin finished speaking, Mr. Cuomo began a live broadcast in which he attributed his behavior to a failure to understand “generational and cultural shifts” and apologized for any offense he might have caused. It was only then that he said his problems had become too much of a distraction and that he would resign in two weeks.
Mr. Cuomo’s decision ricocheted quickly across social media, unleashing a mixture of relief, surprise and cries of victory for women who have been subjected to mistreatment in the workplace.
From Long Island to Washington, New Yorkers and others applauded Mr. Cuomo’s decision while also offering encouraging words to the women who had come forward to describe in detail how they said Mr. Cuomo had behaved.
Many people also expressed support for Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor, who will succeed Mr. Cuomo and be the first woman to serve as New York’s governor.
“I felt it was a wake-up call to men across the country to treat women with respect and to treat them as professionals,” said Karen Hinton, who has accused Mr. Cuomo of touching her inappropriately when he was federal housing secretary and she was a consultant working for him. (He has denied her accusation, which was not a focus of the attorney general’s inquiry.)
“It was also an empowering call for women to stand up and speak out,” she added.
The response from most elected officials was, generally, one of relief. With the State Assembly preparing for impeachment hearings, there was a growing fear that Mr. Cuomo — increasingly isolated, yet defiant — would continue to fight the accusations in hopes of saving his political future.
At the White House, President Biden, a friend and political ally of Mr. Cuomo’s who nevertheless called for the governor to resign after the attorney general’s findings were released, said, “I respect the governor’s decision.”
Letitia James, the attorney general, who has been accused by Ms. Glavin of conducting an unfair investigation, said the resignation “closes a sad chapter for all of New York, but it’s an important step towards justice.”
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, focused their remarks on the “brave” women who had cooperated with investigators after accusing Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment.
“That was not an easy thing to do and now we can turn to the important work of helping our state recover from Covid and the economic collapse,” said Ms. Gillibrand, who, like Mr. Schumer, praised Ms. Hochul.
“I have full confidence that Lt. Governor Hochul will establish a professional and capable administration,” Mr. Schumer said.
Some state lawmakers who were prepared to force Mr. Cuomo out of office through impeachment were surprised by his decision to resign. Others did not believe the governor’s problems would be resolved by his decision to step down. It was unclear on Tuesday whether the State Assembly would proceed with its impeachment inquiry; members said they would convene soon to discuss their next steps.
“Never thought I’d see this day,” Jabari Brisport, a Democratic state senator who represents Brooklyn, wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Brisport said he had tuned in to the remarks by Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Glavin on Tuesday expecting to hear the governor simply repeat his earlier denials of acting inappropriately.
“I never thought that he would resign,” Mr. Brisport said in an interview. “I thought he was too proud and had too much money in his account that impeachment would be the only way we would see the end of Governor Cuomo.”
Yuh-Line Niou, a Democratic Assembly member who represents parts of Lower Manhattan, called Mr. Cuomo’s speech “horrific” because she felt he “continued to gaslight the women he hurt.” The investigation into the governor’s actions should continue, she said.
“I hope that we will continue our investigation and still move to impeach,” she said.
Despite Mr. Cuomo’s downfall, he received a measure of praise from some elected officials and members of the public. Many people said he had provided strong leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, though his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths amid the outbreak has come under scrutiny.
The Path to Governor Cuomo’s Resignation
Plans to resign. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that he would resign from office amid a sexual harassment scandal. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be sworn in to replace him.
Multiple claims of sexual harassment. Eleven women, including current and former members of his administration, have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. An independent inquiry, overseen by the New York State attorney general, corroborated their accounts. The report also found that he and aides retaliated against at least one woman who made her complaints public.
Nursing home Covid-19 controversy. The Cuomo administration is also under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, a scandal that deepened after a Times investigation found that aides rewrote a health department report to hide the real number.
Efforts to obscure the death toll. Interviews and unearthed documents revealed in April that aides repeatedly overruled state health officials in releasing the true nursing home death toll for months. Several senior health officials have resigned in response to the governor’s overall handling of the pandemic, including the vaccine rollout.
Will Cuomo still be impeached? The State Assembly opened an impeachment investigation in March. But after Mr. Cuomo announced his resignation, it was unclear whether the Assembly would move forward with its impeachment process. If Mr. Cuomo were impeached and convicted, he could be barred from holding state office again.
Looking to the future. Mr. Cuomo said on Tuesday that his resignation would take effect in 14 days, and that Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, would be sworn in to replace him. She will be the first woman in New York history to occupy the state’s top office.
Ms. James thanked Mr. Cuomo for his “contributions to our state” while Representative Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens and Long Island and is considering a run for governor next year, said it was” imperative that our next governor continue the positive achievements of the Cuomo administration.”
Mr. Biden also lauded Mr. Cuomo’s performance as governor.
“He’s done a hell of a job,” Mr. Biden said. “Both on everything from access to voting to infrastructure, the whole range of things. That’s why it’s so sad.”
Asked about complimenting Mr. Cuomo’s record in light of the sexual harassment allegations, Mr. Biden said, “The question is ‘Did he do a good job on infrastructure?’ That was the question. He did.”
Tanya Wilson of Jamaica, Queens, agreed that Mr. Cuomo had done a good job running the state.
“He did great during Covid,” Ms. Wilson, a 61-year-old retiree, said. “I still like him after all this time because everybody likes him.”
Karishma Rao, 32, a nurse who lives in Williston Park, on Long Island, said she appreciated Mr. Cuomo, but she also felt that he had let New Yorkers down.
“As a nurse and as a woman, I respect what he did during the whole pandemic,” said Ms. Rao, adding that she like watching Mr. Cuomo’s televised briefings during the outbreak. “So I was disappointed, of course. You always want to believe the victims.”
Other voters felt unequivocally that it was time for Mr. Cuomo to resign.
“I’m glad he resigned,” said Madalyn Fliesler, 69, a retired college professor, from Buffalo. “My husband has had to adjust his behavior in the workplace. Apparently, Cuomo didn’t.”
Emile Askey, a 38-year-old teacher and photographer who lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, said Mr. Cuomo had abused his power.
After reading the allegations against him in the headlines over the past week, Mr. Askey said he felt sure the governor would be out of office soon.
“You have no choice other than to believe them,’’ he said. “Almost every woman I know has had issues with sexual assault, sexual harassment, all that kind of stuff. Why would anyone make that up?”
Lauren D’Avolio, Nicholas Fandos, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner,Téa Kvetenadze and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.