New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday in a bombshell report that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo violated federal and state law by sexually harassing at least 11 women and then retaliated against a former employee who complained publicly about his behavior.
The two U.S. senators from New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are calling on Cuomo to resign, the Guardian reported.
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement. “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office.”
James’ announcement concluded an investigation started in March. Cuomo was interviewed two weeks ago for 11 hours by investigators retained by James’ office, CNBC reported. However, her office said that there were no specific penalties tied to the report.
Cuomo’s office was a hostile work environment for many staffers who said they felt fear and intimidation, according to the 165-page report, which included interviews with 179 witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents. He harassed his own staff members, members of the public and other state employees, including a state trooper on his protective detail, the report alleges. His behavior included nonconsensual touching, groping, kissing, hugging, and inappropriate comments toward numerous women.
New York Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams resisted calling for Cuomo’s resignation earlier this year but is on board as of Aug. 3, saying Cuomo should resign or be impeached if he doesn’t leave voluntarily. The two have had a friendly relationship since Adams won the primary on June 22, Brooklyn Paper reported.
Cuomo denied some of the allegations later Tuesday, and said that other alleged misconduct had been misinterpreted or mischaracterized.
Democratic senators Schumer and Gillibrand described the investigation as “independent, thorough and professional”.
“Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories — and we commend the women for doing so.”
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Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has called for Cuomo to resign in the past. “It should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor,” she said in a statement.
“Cuomo’s misogyny and abuse cannot be denied,” said Mariann Wang, a lawyer for two of the accusers, Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis.
“He has been doing this for years, without any repercussions. He should not be in charge of our government and should not be in any position of power over anyone else,” Wang said in a statement.
Cuomo and other complicit staff “must resign immediately,” said Debra Katz, an attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett. “If he does not, the New York State Assembly must accept the Attorney General’s findings and begin taking the appropriate steps to remove him from office.”
Cuomo said Tuesday in an address from New York state capital Albany that he has put out his own report on his website, countering James’ allegations against him. In it, he said his attorney responded to each allegation. “The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said, asking the public to decide for themselves.
“I am 63 years old, I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that is not who I have ever been,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s report was an 85-page written response to the independent investigation, “but it’s only 26 pages of text. Most of the rest is dozens of photos of him hugging people and other politicians hugging people,” New York Times investigative reporter Brian M. Rosenthal tweeted.
Jessy Han tweeted, “Incredible moment as Cuomo displays face-touching slideshow: ‘I do it with everyone. Black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street.’”
Some Twitter users congratulated James. “showing Republicans how it’s done. It’s not hard to hold members of your own party accountable. Good job” @ChidiNwatu tweeted.
Many on Twitter asked when James would investigate former President Donald Trump, who has denied allegations by 26 women of sexual harassment, groping and rape, and denounced his accusers of being liars.
The Trump Organization, which includes the Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corporation, is under indictment on multiple criminal charges by the New York Attorney General’s office for financial wrongdoing to avoid paying taxes.