ALBANY, N.Y. (NewsNation Now) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will not resign as multiple top New York Democrats called on him to step down in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment.
“I was elected by the people, not legislators. I will not resign because of allegations,” Cuomo said at a briefing Friday.
Democratic congressional members U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, Mondaire Jones, Jamaal Bowman and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez joined a majority of state lawmakers calling on him to resign. Nadler said Cuomo has lost the confidence of New Yorkers.
“The repeated accusations against the governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Nadler said.
“After two accounts of sexual assault, four accounts of harassment, the Attorney General’s investigation finding the Governor’s admin hid nursing home data from the legislature and public, we agree with the 55+ members of the New York State legislature that the Governor must resign,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
A group of 59 New York state Democrats, including 19 senators and 40 Assembly members said in a letter Thursday that it was time for Cuomo to go.
The delegation also pointed to sweeping criticism of Cuomo for keeping secret how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19 for months. The governor has claimed his administration had to verify deaths of residents at hospitals, but critics question why that hasn’t held up the release of data in other states.
“In light of the Governor’s admission of inappropriate behavior and the findings of altered data on nursing home COVID-19 deaths he has lost the confidence of the public and the state legislature, rendering him ineffective in this time of most urgent need,” the letter said. “It is time for Governor Cuomo to resign.”
The Democratic governor has continuously denied he ever touched anyone inappropriately and has said he’s sorry if he ever made anyone uncomfortable. Cuomo urged the public to await the outcome of an investigation of his conduct by state Attorney General Letitia James.
“I did not do what has been alleged,” Cuomo said Friday. “Period. I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives, but I can tell you, as a former attorney general who has gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation.”
Listen to Cuomo’s full announcement above; remarks on the allegations begin around the 6:05 minute mark
Cuomo faces multiple allegations that he made the workplace an uncomfortable place for young women with sexually suggestive remarks and behavior, including unwanted touching and a kiss. One aide claimed the governor’s aides publicly smeared her after she accused him of sexual harassment.
The Times Union of Albany reported Thursday that an unidentified aide had claimed Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her at his official residence late last year. The woman hasn’t filed a criminal complaint, but a lawyer for the governor said that the state had reported the allegation to the Albany Police Department after the woman involved declined to do so herself.
The new allegations come as New York State Judiciary Committee said it will begin an impeachment investigation into Cuomo to examine allegations of misconduct.
The committee can interview witnesses and subpoena documents and its inquiry could be wide-ranging: from alleged sexual misconduct to COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes. It won’t interfere with a separate inquiry of sexual harassment allegations being conducted by the state attorney general.
In New York, the Assembly is the legislative house that could move to impeach Cuomo.
The state Assembly has 150 members. It could convene an impeachment trial against Cuomo with a simple majority vote. The state Senate, which would join with members of the state’s top appeals court to hold an impeachment trial, has 63 members.
Spokespeople for New York’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Cuomo, who took office in 2011, has pointed to his reelections as an indication of strong statewide support, which was bolstered last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is Cuomo’s third term as governor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report