ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confronted a shocking collection of defections Friday amid allegations of sexual harassment that left the high-profile Democrat combating for his political survival, indignant and alone.
By day’s finish, the three-term governor had misplaced the assist of virtually all the 29-member New York congressional delegation and a majority of Democrats within the state legislature. Not one of the desertions damage greater than these of New York’s two U.S. senators, Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Because of the a number of, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it’s clear that Governor Cuomo has misplaced the boldness of his governing companions and the individuals of New York,” the Democratic senators wrote in a joint assertion. “Governor Cuomo ought to resign.”
The escalating political disaster has spawned an impeachment inquiry in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, and threatens to solid a cloud over President Joe Biden’s early days in workplace. Republicans have seized on the scandal to attempt to distract from Biden’s success tackling the coronavirus pandemic and problem his celebration’s well-established benefit with feminine voters.
Biden, a longtime ally of Cuomo and his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, has averted instantly addressing the controversy, though it’s changing into more and more tough.
White Home press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday declined to say whether or not Biden believes Cuomo ought to resign. She mentioned each girl who has come forth “deserves to have her voice heard, needs to be handled with respect and will be capable to inform her story.”
The senators’ assertion, which cited the pandemic as a cause for needing “positive and regular management,” got here shortly after Schumer stood alongside Biden at a Rose Backyard ceremony celebrating the passage of the Democrat-backed $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid invoice.
A defiant Cuomo earlier within the day insisted he wouldn’t step down and condemned his Democratic detractors as “reckless and harmful.”
“I didn’t do what has been alleged. Interval,” he mentioned, earlier than evoking a favourite grievance of former President Donald Trump. “Folks know the distinction between taking part in politics, bowing to cancel tradition and the reality.”
Cuomo’s coalition of critics has expanded geographically and politically, now masking just about each area within the state and the political energy facilities of New York Metropolis and Washington. Amongst them are New York Metropolis progressive U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; the chief of the Home Democratic marketing campaign arm, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney; Buffalo-based U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins; and a bunch of Lengthy Island-based state lawmakers who had been Cuomo loyalists.
“The victims of sexual assault concern me greater than politics or different slender issues, and I imagine Governor Cuomo should step apart,” Maloney mentioned.
Ocasio-Cortez, in a joint assertion with U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, mentioned that after a brand new groping allegation in opposition to the governor, she was involved in regards to the security and well-being of the governor’s employees.
“We imagine these ladies,” they mentioned.
Cuomo on Friday insisted that he by no means touched anybody inappropriately, and mentioned once more that he’s sorry if he ever made anybody uncomfortable. He declined to reply a direct query about whether or not he is had a consensual romantic relationship with any of the accusers.
“I’ve not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, interval,” he mentioned.
The state Meeting greenlit an impeachment investigation Thursday as lawmakers examine whether or not there are grounds for Cuomo’s forcible removing from workplace. The state lawyer normal can also be main a probe into his office conduct.
The girl hasn’t filed a felony criticism, however a lawyer for the governor mentioned Thursday that the state reported the allegation to Albany police after the girl declined to take action herself.
Moreover, Cuomo is going through a number of allegations of sexually suggestive remarks and conduct towards ladies, together with feminine aides. One aide mentioned he requested her if she would ever have intercourse with an older man. And one other aide mentioned the governor as soon as kissed her with out consent, and mentioned governor’s aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
Not often within the fashionable period has a number one elected official survived such a political backlash from his personal celebration, however there may be precedent.
Cuomo mentioned Friday he’d nonetheless be capable to govern regardless of the rising record of elected officers who’ve demanded that he give up.
He didn’t handle the fact of an more and more untenable place: Cuomo remains to be managing the state’s pandemic response and negotiating a state finances with lawmakers who’ve misplaced confidence in his management. Greater than 120 members of the state legislature referred to as on him to give up earlier this week, a majority of them Democrats.
The defections of just about all the congressional delegation raised the prospect of additional erosion of assist.
Displaying no indicators of bowing to the strain, Cuomo raised new questions in regards to the motives of the accusers.
“I gained’t speculate about individuals’s attainable motives,” he mentioned Friday. “However I can inform you as a former lawyer normal who has gone by way of this case many occasions, there are sometimes many motivations for making an allegation. And that’s the reason you might want to know the details earlier than you decide.”
“Critical allegations needs to be weighed critically, proper?” he added. “That’s why they’re referred to as severe.”
Peoples reported from New York Metropolis. Related Press author Josh Boak in Washington contributed.