Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday he would not resign amid the mounting pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle following allegations of sexual harassment.
Mr. Cuomo, in a conference call with reporters, reiterated his prior stance that he “never harassed anyone, never abused anyone, never assaulted anyone — and I never would,” he said.
“I was not elected by the politicians,” he added. “I was elected by the people.”
On Thursday, state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation to examine the allegations of misconduct. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has already begun an independent investigation that will be led by a former Acting U.S Attorney and an employment discrimination attorney.
Mr. Cuomo criticized lawmakers for forming conclusions and opinions “without facts.”
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and then opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” he said. “The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance.”
More than 55 Democratic lawmakers signed a statement Thursday calling for the governor to resign. Locally, state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) on Thursday also called for the governor’s resignation. Additional Democratic members of the House of Representatives called for his resignation Friday, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who confirmed he may run for governor in 2022, issued a statement shortly after Friday’s conference call ended, criticizing Mr. Cuomo for attempting to discredit the women who have come forward.
“Andrew Cuomo has abused the power and privilege entrusted to him by the people of New York, and his most recent remarks could not make this more clear,” Mr. Zeldin said. “His continued attempts to discredit the individuals who have come forward, question their ‘motives’ and more underscore just how far he’ll go to dodge any and all responsibility. His actions are inexcusable and unforgivable, and it’s up to each and every New Yorker — legislators, the media and voters — to hold him accountable.”
Mr. Cuomo vowed to return to work, focusing on the upcoming state budget, vaccine rollout and rebuilding the state amid the pandemic. He said the investigations into the allegations should be allowed to finish before any conclusions are reached.
“Wait for the facts, then you can have an opinion,” he said.
Asked specifically if there’s a point in which he would resign, Mr. Cuomo said: “My point is, let’s get the review and then let’s get the facts and then New Yorkers can make a decision once they have facts. You don’t have facts now. You have allegations.”
He added that he would not debate the allegations in the press.
“I have not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period,” Mr. Cuomo said.
The governor began his remarks on the allegations Friday by saying that women have a right to come forward and be heard and that he encourages that.
“But I also want to be clear, there is still a question of the truth,” he said. “I did not do what has been alleged. I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives, but I can tell you as a former attorney general who’s gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision.”