Cassie Moreno worked in Cuomo’s office for two months and thought the saga was going to involve the state legislature trying to force him out.
“I think everyone in New York politics was expecting this to be a battle through impeachment,” said Moreno. “I was expecting him to literally fight until he was the last man standing.”
Moreno said the culture in the office was “horrible.”
“I left as soon as I could. And it really was just the controlled environment, the way that we had to be on-call from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. The way that you could get called to do anything, anytime — you were told to bring your laptop to the grocery store,” she said.
Moreno was not named in the attorney general’s report on Cuomo and has not accused him of wrongdoing. But she said he has still not taken responsibility.
“What he has done is use his staff and all of the resources available to him to undermine the women who have come forward to leak documents about them to the press,” she said.
The 63-year-old Democrat has denied intentionally mistreating women and called the pressure for his ouster politically motivated. But he said that fighting back in this “too hot” political climate would subject the state to months of turmoil.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said in a televised address.
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. She said Cuomo’s resignation was “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
The governor prefaced his resignation with a 45-minute defense from his lawyer and his own insistence that his behavior — while sometimes insensitive, off-putting or “too familiar” — had been used against him as a weapon in a political environment where “rashness has replaced reasonableness.”
“I am a fighter, and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful,” he said, but added that he didn’t want “distractions” to consume the state government as it grapples with the pandemic and other problems.
The string of accusations began in news reports last December and went on for months. Cuomo called some of the allegations fabricated and denied 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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