Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation Tuesday, saying he would like to spare New Yorkers the distraction of a protracted impeachment inquiry.
“I work for you and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you because as we say, it’s not about me, it’s about we,” Cuomo said in a televised address, adding that his resignation would be effective in two weeks.
He said that fighting back against the “politically motivated” attack on him would throw New York into months of turmoil and “I cannot be the cause of that.”
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government,” the 63-year-old three-term governor said.
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will become the state’s first female governor.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” tweeted 62-year-old Hochul, who previously served as a member of Congress.
Ahead of his resignation on Tuesday, Cuomo said he takes “fully responsibility” for his actions, though he continued to defend himself, saying he had “never crossed the line with anyone.”
“I have slipped and called people ‘honey, ’sweetheart’ and ‘darling.’ I mean it to be endearing but women found it dated and offensive,” he said. “I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been too familiar with people. My sense of humor can be insensitive and off-putting.”
“In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” Cuomo added. “There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate and I should have — no excuses.”
Cuomo’s resignation comes one week after a report by the New York state attorney general found that the governor sexually harassed almost a dozen women in violation of federal and state law.
Cuomo on Tuesday called the situation “a highly political matter” saying “there are many motivations at play, if anyone thought otherwise they would be naive.”
“I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints its not easy to step forward but you did an important service and you taught me and you taught others an important lesson personal boundaries must be expanded and must be protected,” he said. “I accept full responsibility.”
“I am a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated,” Cuomo went on to add. “I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society. If I could communicate the facts through the frenzy New Yorkers would understand.”
“I believe that, but when I took my oath as governor then it changed; I became a fighter but I became a fighter for you,” he added.
He said that the situation “by its current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy” and “consume government” while costing taxpayers millions of dollars that could be better spent managing the state’s COVID-19 response. As such, Cuomo said it was in New Yorkers’ best interest for him to resign.
Numerous political figures called for Cuomo’s resignation last week, including President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after state attorney general Letitia James concluded a months-long probe into sexual harassment allegations against the governor, culminating in a damning 165-page report.
The AG’s investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed eleven women, including nine current and former state employees.
“None of them welcomed it and all of them found it uncomfortable,” James told reporters last week.
James said that Cuomo and the Executive Chamber cultivated a “toxic” workplace that allowed “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”