In a final prerecorded address as New York governor on Monday (August 23), Andrew Cuomo said “that when government politicizes allegations and the headlines condemn without facts, you undermine the justice system.”
Faced with mounting legal pressures and demands for his departure from President Joe Biden and others, Cuomo resigned on August 10 following an inquiry that found he sexually harassed 11 women, capping a startling downfall for one of the most prominent politicians in the United States.
A Democrat who had served since 2011 as governor of the fourth most-populous state, Cuomo, 63, resigned a week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released the results of a five-month independent investigation that concluded he had engaged in conduct that violated U.S. and state laws.
“The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic, and it worked,” Cuomo said in his final speech. “There was a political and media stampede, but the truth will out in time. Of that, I am confident.”
Cuomo’s resignation spared him from possible removal from office through impeachment proceedings in the Democratic-controlled state legislature, which appeared overwhelmingly likely as lawmakers abandoned him in droves.
“I am a fighter and my instinct is to fight this because it is unfair and unjust in my mind,” he said. “But you also know that I love New York and I serve you. That is the oath that I took. And in this moment, I believe the right thing is that my service comes first. Prolonging this situation could only cause governmental paralysis and that is just not an option for you and not an option for the state, especially now.”
The investigation, detailed in a 168-page report, found that Cuomo groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to women including current and former government workers – one a state trooper – and retaliated against at least one woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.
Cuomo is the latest New York politician to leave in scandal. Eliot Spitzer quit as governor in 2008 over his patronage of prostitutes. The man who succeeded him, David Paterson, aborted his 2010 re-election campaign facing allegations of witness tampering and other offenses. U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011 in a sexting scandal. In 2018, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned after four women accused him of abuse.
Cuomo also became the latest powerful man taken down in recent years following the rise of the #MeToo social movement against sexual abuse and harassment that has shaken politics, Hollywood, the business world and the workplace.
(Production: Roselle Chen, Jonathan Allen, Joseph Ax)