New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday resigned from office following a scathing report from the state’s attorney general concluding that the third-term Democrat sexually harassed 11 women, and in one instance, sought to retaliate against one of his accusers who went public with her allegations.

The governor’s decision, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the Legislature to remove him by impeachment.

Investigators said he subjected women to unwanted kisses; groped their breasts or buttocks or otherwise touched them inappropriately; made insinuating remarks about their looks and their sex lives; and created a work environment “rife with fear and intimidation.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, will become the state’s 57th governor and the first woman to hold the post.

The #MeToo-era scandal cut short not just a career but a dynasty: Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, was governor in the 1980s and ’90s, and the younger Cuomo was often mentioned as a potential candidate for president, an office his father famously contemplated seeking. Even as the scandal mushroomed, Cuomo was planning to run for reelection in 2022.

Cuomo still faces the possibility of criminal charges, with a number of prosecutors around the state moving to investigate him.

The string of accusations that spelled the governor’s downfall began to unfold in news reports last December and went on for months.

Cuomo called some of the allegations fabricated, forcefully denying he touched anyone inappropriately. But he acknowledged making some aides uncomfortable with comments he said he intended as playful, and he apologized for some of his behavior.

He portrayed some of the encounters as misunderstandings attributable to “generational or cultural” differences, a reference in part to his upbringing in an affectionate Italian American family.

As a defiant Cuomo clung to office, state lawmakers launched an impeachment investigation, and nearly the entire Democratic establishment in New York deserted him – not only over the accusations but also because of the discovery that his administration had concealed thousands of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home patients.

The harassment investigation ordered up by the attorney general and conducted by two outside lawyers corroborated the women’s accounts and added lurid new ones. The release of the report left the governor more isolated than ever, with some of his most loyal supporters abandoning him and President Joe Biden joining those calling on him to resign.

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His accusers included an aide who said Cuomo groped her breast at the governor’s mansion. Investigators also the governor’s staff retaliated against one of his accusers by leaking confidential personnel files about her.

At the same time the behavior that got him into trouble was going on, he was publicly championing the #MeToo movement and surrounding himself with women’s rights activists, signing into law sweeping new protections against sexual harassment and lengthening the statute of limitations in rape cases.

Also, Cuomo’s administration was fiercely criticized for forcing nursing homes to accept patients recovering from the virus.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the state’s handling of data on nursing home deaths. In addition, the state attorney general is looking into whether Cuomo broke the law in using members of his staff to help write and promote his book, from which he stood to make more than $5 million.

The governor had also increasingly come under fire over his rough and sometimes vindictive treatment of fellow politicians and his own staff, with former aides telling stories of a brutal work environment.

Cuomo has been divorced since 2005 from the author and activist Kerry Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family, and was romantically involved up until 2019 with TV lifestyle personality Sandra Lee. He has three adult daughters.

He gained political experience early on as his father’s hard-nosed and often ruthless campaign manager and went on to become New York attorney general and U.S. housing secretary under President Bill Clinton before getting elected governor in 2010.

New York has seen a string of high-level political figures brought down in disgrace in recent years.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 in a call-girl scandal. Rep. Anthony Weiner went to prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stepped down in 2018 after four women accused him of abuse. And the top two leaders in the Legislature were convicted of corruption.

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