You mean this defense from Andrew Cuomo didn’t convince his allies within the party to rally to his side? Go figure. The embattled governor of New York actually pulled together a montage of public displays of affection as a defense against accusations from Attorney General Letitia James of committing serial sexual harassment:
— Jessy Han (@hjessy_) August 3, 2021
What was he thinking? MSNBC contributor Laura Bassett attempts to reconstruct the strategy:
“Sir, this report is gonna be really bad. 11 women accuse you of serious and egregious sexual harassment.”
“Ok, pull together as many photos as you can find of me touching and kissing people. We’ll do a montage.”
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) August 3, 2021
Whatever defense Cuomo thought this would provide, it’s not working. It didn’t take long for leading members of Cuomo’s own party to line up on the side of the accusers. Both of New York’s Senate Democrats have demanded Cuomo’s resignation, as has New York City mayor Bill de Blasio:
NEW: Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand of New York: “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.” https://t.co/5dySC4CJmI pic.twitter.com/zZeo9UHU27
— ABC News (@ABC) August 3, 2021
The addition of de Blasio to these calls was a gimme. Cuomo and de Blasio have been feuding for years, more especially during the pandemic. De Blasio might not have much of a political future after his disastrous term as mayor, but at least he has the consolation of having gotten the best of Cuomo in the end.
The state’s Democratic legislators, both in Albany and Washington, concur with the three:
In a joint statement Tuesday, Reps. Tom Suozzi, Hakeem Jeffries and Gregory Meeks — three Democratic New York lawmakers who had previously not called on Cuomo to resign — reversed course.
“The office of Attorney General Tish James conducted a complete, thorough and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law,” the congressmen stated. “We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, similarly for Cuomo to be out in a statement Tuesday.
“This report highlights unacceptable behavior by Governor Cuomo and his administration. As I said, when these disturbing allegations first came to light, the Governor must resign for the good of the state,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Now that the investigation is complete and the allegations have been substantiated, it should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, also a Democrat, said in a separate statement that the governor “must step aside or be removed.”
“These damning findings from Attorney General James, who has done a great job, show quite clearly that the governor must resign — and if he will not, that he should be impeached,” Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, added. “Not only has Gov. Cuomo broken the law by committing disturbing and dehumanizing acts against women, he has engaged in retaliation against his accusers, and also abused his power as an employer, boss, and the leader of New York and most powerful person in this state.”
All of Cuomo’s allies are either abandoning ship or keeping a mighty low profile this afternoon. It’s going to be tough for someone to step up to defend Cuomo after an official investigation and claim that the women and the investigators are lying. Cuomo can gripe all he wants about “bias” in the probe, but he got a lot more due process than Al Franken got, and for much more egregious conduct.
Will Cuomo resign? I’d be stunned if he did. Cuomo has far too high regard for himself and far too much sense of entitlement to power to just step away. He’ll take the Trump strategy of simply refusing to engage on controversy and dare the legislature to impeach and remove him. And even with all of these calls for Cuomo to beat feet out of Albany, it’s anyone’s guess whether Democratic legislators will take this seriously enough to force an impeachment-and-removal process.
Keep an eye out for any statements that claim that the legislature still needs to do a comprehensive probe of all Cuomo’s scandals before they can act. They’ve used that excuse to stall on action for months. If they stick to it, Democrats in Albany will hope that the Trump strategy works for them, too.