Chuck Schumer joins congressional Democrats’ call for Cuomo to resign

The announcements put additional pressure not only on Mr. Cuomo, who has vigorously resisted calls for his resignation and dismissed them as political maneuvers by his rivals, but also on Mr. Biden’s White House, which has so far refused to call for the resignation of the three-term Democratic heavyweight, pointing instead to the attorney general’s ongoing investigation into allegations of intimidation. An aide told CNN that the White House had no further comment on the matter Friday night.

Confident and persistent leadership is needed to face and overcome the Covid crisis. We applaud the courageous actions of those who have made serious allegations of abuse and misconduct, Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement. In light of the many credible allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the trust of his government partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.

On Friday, 13 New York Democrats – the majority of the state’s congressional delegation – said Cuomo should resign because the allegations interfere with his ability to govern effectively and serve New Yorkers.

Asked about the allegations Friday, Cuomo told a news conference that the review should be allowed to continue. I won’t resign.

I didn’t do what was asked, period. I’m not going to speculate on people’s possible motives, he continued.

He also, without naming names, attacked the lawmakers who called for his resignation, saying politicians who take office without knowing the facts are reckless and dangerous and want to abolish culture.

Coordinated education

A source familiar with the conversations that led to the New York House Democrats’ coordinated call for Cuomo’s resignation said the group stayed in touch as the allegations unfolded, but only agreed Thursday to move forward together. They decided to wait until Friday morning so as not to disrupt President Joe Biden’s Thursday night speech.

The source said the turning point for members was a combination of recent developments, including House Speaker Carl Heastie’s announcement Thursday that Democrats would launch an impeachment investigation. The decision to call in almost everyone at once was also a recognition that when one of them makes a call, it puts pressure on everyone else.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said in a statement that Mr. Cuomo had lost the trust of New Yorkers, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney said Mr. Cuomo’s resignation was in the best interest of all New Yorkers.

They join Rep. Kathleen Rice, who earlier this month became the first of 19 Democrats in the New York House delegation to call on Cuomo to resign.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and freshman Jamaal Bowman said they agree with others who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer lead effectively in the face of so many challenges.

Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said in a joint statement that they believe the women made sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.

In separate statements Friday, fellow Democratic Reps. Grace Maine, Nydia Velasquez, Yvette Clark, Adriano Espaillat, Mondar Jones, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney, Brian Higgins and Paul Tonko have also called for Cuomo to resign as governor.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who also chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, argued that New Yorkers need a governor who focuses on the grassroots to help them cope with the Covid 19 pandemic.

According to a January report by the state attorney general, the Cuomo administration underestimated the number of covidium deaths among patients in New York’s long-term care facilities by about 50 percent and then delayed reporting the potentially damaging information to state lawmakers.

Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that the government has not accounted for the deaths of the 19 Covid residents who were transferred out of the facility or to hospitals. Although the report found that the overall number of deaths remained unchanged, it misrepresented the number of deaths in New York City’s Covid-19 long-term care facilities.

Cuomo and his administration have defended their decision, arguing that the Justice Department and New York State lawmakers are asking questions, and that the federal investigation is their priority. The governor denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.

Amid the growing criticism, Cuomo also faces allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior from many women. The scandal that has gripped New York politics for the past two weeks began on the 24th. February, when a former aide to Lindsey Boylan claimed in Medium that Cuomo kissed her on the mouth against her will in 2018 after a brief tête-à-tête in his New York office.

Cuomo apologized to the women last week, saying he never knew he had made anyone uncomfortable and denying touching anyone inappropriately.

Nadler said Friday that the allegations against Cuomo are serious and credible and that Cuomo is guaranteed by law, but that the question of the New York governor’s credibility is a matter of political judgment.

The courage of the people who came to share their experiences with Governor Cuomo is inspiring and I support them, he said. The repeated allegations against the governor and the manner in which he has responded to them preclude him from governing at this time.

Several Democrats said Friday that the investigation into Cuomo’s conduct by New York State Attorney General Letitia James should continue.

More than 50 Democrats in the New York State Senate and Assembly sent a letter Thursday saying it’s time for Governor Cuomo to step down because he was ineffective when he was needed most. The Senate’s top Democrat, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, spoke out Sunday in favor of Governor Cuomo’s resignation.

Lawmakers calling for Cuomo’s resignation say his position is becoming increasingly untenable as the state enters a period of critical budget negotiations that will chart a course for the state as it tries to revitalize its pandemic-stricken economy.

Democratic Assembly Pressure

On Friday, the avalanche of calls for Cuomo’s resignation by House Democrats again focused on Schumer and Gillibrand, who in 2017 initially called on former Minnesota senator Al Franken to resign after several women accused him of groping them inappropriately.

Schumer said Thursday on ABC’s The View that the allegations against Cuomo are deeply troubling and should be thoroughly investigated by prosecutors, but he did not say that Cuomo should resign from his post.

Ms. Gillibrand also did not call for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation and supports the New York Attorney General’s investigation. On Wednesday, she declined to discuss with CNN why she sees the allegations against Cuomo as different from those against Franken.

However, she called Cuomo’s behavior totally unacceptable and said all allegations of sexual harassment should be taken seriously and investigated.

Last week, Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who is also chairman of the Democratic caucus, to CNN that he did not think Cuomo should resign, but that he was calling for a full, fair and thorough independent investigation.

Asked Friday about pressure from his colleagues to demand Cuomo’s resignation, Jeffries’ spokeswoman, Christy Stephenson, told CNN that the congressman has not changed his position.

Tom Suozzi said Cuomo should seriously consider whether he can continue to govern effectively, and if he comes to the conclusion that he can’t, he should resign.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House received no information on whether Biden thought Cuomo should resign, given the steady stream of New York officials and lawmakers calling for the governor to resign.

The president believes that every woman who has come forward deserves to be heard, treated with respect and be able to tell her story, Psaki said, adding that Biden believes there should be an independent investigation.

Cuomo rejects calls for dismissal

In a conference call Friday, Cuomo made it clear he would not resign despite public pressure.

I won’t resign. I was not elected by politicians, I was elected by the people, he said, insisting that New Yorkers know me.

He urged the public to let the Attorney General’s investigation run its course and wait for the facts to come to light.

I am confident that when New Yorkers know the facts of the investigation, I will confidently make a decision based on the facts, he said. But wait for the facts. An opinion without facts is irresponsible.

He claimed that he did not have an inappropriate sexual relationship.

I never bothered anyone, I never bullied anyone, I never bothered anyone, he said.

Cuomo added that he will avoid distractions and focus on his work.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Christina Sguglia, Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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