A report released on Tuesday found Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women in the workplace, and now many lawmakers are calling for his resignation or impeachment — including President Joe Biden who called on Cuomo to resign.
The 165-page report released by the New York State Attorney General’s office following a months long investigation found Cuomo abused power by nonconsensually groping, touching and kissing female coworkers, in addition to making offensive comments of a sexual nature, breaking state and federal law.
“It is beyond clear that [Cuomo] is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”
Speaker of the State Assembly Carl E. Heastie, the body that would lead impeachment proceedings, said that Cuomo “can no longer remain in office,” and the State Assembly would conclude its “impeachment investigation as quickly as possible.”
To impeach or not to impeach
This is not the first time NY lawmakers have wanted to impeach Cuomo.
In March 2021, a number of legislators called to remove Cuomo from office due to accusations of sexual harassment, sparking the recent investigation. Those legislators were also motivated by the finding that Cuomo covered up thousands of COVID-19 deaths in NY nursing homes.
Impeachment is a process in which a public official is tried for misconduct in a court of law. If Cuomo is impeached, that means he would be removed from office and potentially disqualify him from running for office again.
Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic nominee for mayor Eric Adams said the NY State Assembly must swiftly “move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign.”
State senators Julia Salazar and Jabari Brisport, who represent parts of Brooklyn, also called for impeachment.
Thomas Cruz, who has lived in Bushwick his whole life, said Cuomo should be removed from office if he does not resign.
“It’s kind of scary to have someone like that in office,” Cruz said. “These are people you’re supposed to trust. He makes decisions that impact our community in Brooklyn, you know.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said “no employee should be subjected to the kind of behavior detailed in this report,” and at least 15 New York congress members released statements urging Cuomo to resign but did not indicate impeachment.
Brooklyn Democratic Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn said the report showed Cuomo was unfit for office, and must resign.
“As a childhood sexual abuse survivor who also endured sexual harassment throughout my career, these testimonies triggered an emotional disturbance,” she said.
“There is absolutely no room for this abuse, especially with elected officials who’ve been entrusted to fight it. Governor Cuomo’s conduct found in the report is heinous and a gross abuse of power.”
BK Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi and Gregory Meeks said in a joint statement: “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign,”
Charles Anthony Gonzales, who’s lived in Bushwick for 56 years, said criminal charges are warranted.
“He should be arrested,” Gonzales said. “It’s a shame we have a governor who, in a high position like that, is doing what he’s doing [to] women. The position he’s in — he’s taking advantage of it.”
The report was spearheaded by the New York State Attorney General Letitia James. James appointed high-profile independent lawyers Anne L. Clark and Joon H. Kim to lead the five-month-long investigation, and the two interviewed 179 individuals, and reviewed more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures.
As part of the investigation, Cuomo answered questions under oath. He denied the most serious allegations by offering “blanket denials” or a “lack of recollection as to specific incidents.”
The investigation found Cuomo had retaliated against at least one woman for filing a complaint.
In the report, one assistant said Cuomo kissed her on the face and at least once on the lips. She said Cuomo grabbed her butt during hugs, and once reached into her blouse during a hug to grab her breast.
Cuomo, in a recorded statement released Tuesday, said “the facts are much different than portrayed” in the investigation. In addition to denying the allegations, he has refused to leave his position.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said. “That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”
Tori Husain, a Bushwick activist, empathized with the women who stepped forward. “[Women] had to ignore their trauma just to exist in the workplace,” Husain said. “I can’t imagine how they must be feeling physically, not just emotionally.”
A statement from Yvette D. Clarke signed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes and 10 other NY representatives urged Cuomo to resign. “The glaring examples of sexual harassment, coupled with retaliatory behavior and the attempting to disparage the strong enough women to come forward, are disappointing and unacceptable,” Clarke wrote.
James said that “no man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”
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