An emotional Andrew Cuomo provided his fullest apology but for conduct that prompted two ladies to accuse him of sexual harassment — and which has imperilled his political profession — however insisted he wouldn’t resign.
His voice faltering, the New York governor mentioned he was embarrassed and ashamed of behaviour that had brought on folks ache. But he additionally maintained that he had “by no means touched anybody inappropriately,” and urged the general public to attend for the outcomes of an official investigation earlier than casting judgment.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for no matter ache I brought on anybody. I by no means meant it. And I will likely be higher for this expertise,” the governor mentioned.
Cuomo’s contrition was a uncommon show from a domineering governor who has dominated New York for a decade, typically getting his approach by means of worry and intimidation. It got here as a rising refrain of legislators, together with a number of from his personal Democratic celebration, known as for him to step down — one thing the governor insisted he wouldn’t do.
“I’m not going to resign. I work for the folks of the State of New York. They elected me and I will serve the folks of the State of New York,” Cuomo mentioned.
His look at a press briefing — the venue wherein he grew to become a nationwide determine early final 12 months for his each day updates on the Covid-19 pandemic — was his first in days, and got here as his administration grabbles with separate, escalating scandals.
Longstanding complaints that the governor intentionally undercounted nursing houses deaths brought on by coronavirus — to guard his repute, in accordance with critics — gained traction final month after the publication of an investigation by the New York attorney-general.
Since then, two former aides have come ahead to supply detailed accusations of sexual harassment by Cuomo. One lady mentioned the governor kissed her and instructed they play strip poker. One other mentioned he requested her if she had intercourse with older males.
Different ladies have since alleged that Cuomo’s behaviour made them uncomfortable.
In each instances, Cuomo provided what had been thought to be grudging apologies. Addressing the harassment claims, for instance, he dismissed them as misinterpreted banter. He ultimately consented to an impartial investigation led by the attorney-general, Letitia James, that he had initially resisted.
Till not too long ago, Cuomo had been thought-about a shoo-in for a fourth time period and loved nationwide stardom for his management through the pandemic. There’s now widespread hypothesis about whether or not he’ll serve out his time period — not to mention stand for re-election subsequent 12 months.
The governor’s sudden weak spot has come at an ungainly time for New York. The state has been one of many hardest hit by the pandemic and is now struggling to spice up its vaccination effort whereas additionally coping with a dire fiscal situation and the challenges of reopening an economic system devastated by the pandemic.
“I can not think about Andrew Cuomo not finishing his time period of workplace,” mentioned Mitchell Moss, a professor at New York College. “The state is now going through the problem of adopting a state finances on time whereas additionally vaccinating New Yorkers whereas combating Covid-19.”
Moss added: “The state legislature is a consultant physique consisting of greater than 200 politicians elected for two-year phrases, which suggests it isn’t designed or outfitted to run the State of New York.”
However Cuomo has a protracted record of enemies, together with in his personal celebration. Progressive Democrats, specifically, have chafed at his opposition over time to elevated social spending and elevating taxes on the rich, and a number of other have been vocal of their need to see him off.
In an indication of Cuomo’s fading authority, legislators struck a deal on Tuesday to strip the governor of the emergency powers that had given him free rein to order quarantines and different restrictive measures through the pandemic.