Politics & Policy

Democratic New York State Assemblyman: AG’s Cuomo Report ‘Disturbing’ but ‘Not Surprising’

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, May 11, 2021. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

New York State assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill issued a scathing rebuke of Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, calling on the governor to “resign immediately” or face an impeachment trial.

The Democratic assemblyman’s comments come after a report by New York state attorney general Letitia James found that the governor sexually harassed almost a dozen women in violation of federal and state law.

James concluded a months-long probe into sexual harassment allegations against the governor, culminating in a damning 165-page report. The investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed eleven women, including nine current and former state employees.

“The findings by the Attorney General Leticia James, while disturbing, are not surprising,” Cahill said in a statement. “In most of his interactions, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has operated as though he alone was anointed with unlimited power, demanding absolute loyalty and showing exactly zero tolerance for those who did anything he deemed even the slightest perceived deviation from that personal fealty.”

He added: “Why then, is it a surprise to anyone that a careful investigation — one he initially supported but then criticized when realizing he did not control it — revealed that his interpersonal relationships with females demonstrated a selfish, grotesque misogyny and that his view of important public data was little more than manipulative fiction to earn himself a hefty book advance?”

“For the good of the people and state he so often professes to hold in such high regard, Andrew Cuomo should resign immediately,” he said. “Should he continue to refuse to do so, the Assembly, in its duly authorized role as prosecutor, is obligated to wrap our investigation and commence a trial of impeachment of Governor Cuomo and demand the immediate termination of his accomplice cronies who tolerate, facilitated and at a minimum tacitly approved of his actions.”

The report details numerous allegations against the governor, including that the governor “hugged Executive Assistant #1 and then reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast” on November 16, 2020. The report does not name the executive assistant, who appears to be the state employee who first shared her allegations in an interview with the Albany Times Union in April.

“On multiple occasions in 2019 and 2020, the Governor engaged in close and intimate hugs with Executive Assistant #1 during which he, on occasion, grabbed her butt,” the report adds.

Another allegation details how Cuomo allegedly harassed a state trooper, including by “running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event,” and “kissing her (and only her) on the cheek in front of another Trooper and asking to kiss her on another occasion, which she deflected.”

Cuomo has continued to deny the allegations, saying Tuesday that “the facts are much different from what has been portrayed.”

“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” he said. “I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”

Calls to resign rolled in from numerous political figures on Tuesday, including President Biden and House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).

A majority of New York state lawmakers support opening impeachment proceedings against Cuomo if he doesn’t resign, according to the AP. At least 82 of the State Assembly’s 150 lawmakers have backed opening the proceedings publicly or in comments to the AP.

While the report has lead state legislators to expedite the impeachment investigation that they began against the governor in March, the impeachment process is still likely to last months.

“We have a heavy lift,” state Assemblyman Michael Montesano, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday.

Assembly speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement after the report was released that it is clear that Cuomo “has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office.”

“Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the attorney general, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible,” Heastie said

Though Montesano said assembly investigators are “very far along” in the inquiries, legislators have warned that the process will be time-consuming. There is little precedent for impeaching a New York governor; William Sulzer was removed from office in 1913, making him the first and last New York governor to be impeached.

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