New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned on Tuesday, a week after a report was released that found that the former governor had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and created a toxic workplace environment.
Kathy Huchell, New York Lieutenant Governor, will replace Cuomo to become the state’s first female governor in 14 days.
In a statement on Tuesday, Cuomo argued that the investigation was politically motivated, but that he would resign so as to not be “unhelpful.”
“I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. I’m a fighter and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated, I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society,” Cuomo stated Tuesday.
Although he wanted to fight the accusations, Cuomo stated that a potential impeachment process could take up too much attention from state government and derail progress on the coronavirus pandemic.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government,” Cuomo said.
Repeated Calls for Cuomo to resign
Politicians and public figures on both sides of the aisle, including US President Joe Biden, called on Cuomo to resign after the report was released. Cuomo, however, seemed to hold firm that he was the victim of a biased investigation.
The former governor, son of longtime New York politician Mario Cuomo, maintained that his penchant for showing physical affection was the result of his Italian-American heritage, stating that the sexual harassment allegations against him may have come from differences in “generational or cultural perspectives.”
In his apology, Cuomo expressed regret at making women around him feel uncomfortable, but claimed that it was never his intention to do so:
“I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable.”
He then claimed that he had always kissed people on the cheek, while showing a slideshow of images of himself embracing a variety of people.
The report into sexual harassment
The report released on August 3 detailed the findings of a months-long investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Laetitia Green.
Green hired two outside investigators, top federal prosecutor Joon H. Kim and employment lawyer Anne E. Clark, to conduct the probe into Cuomo’s conduct while in office.
Within the report, which numbers over 150 pages, Democrat Cuomo’s pattern of sexual harassment is laid bare through numerous allegations made by employees and staff members.
The report concluded that Cuomo broke multiple state and federal laws during his tenure as the governor of New York.
The first accusation of sexual harassment emerged in late February, when a former employee described a series of unwanted advances by the governor, including a kiss in his office, in front of other people.
Cuomo was able to get away with sexually harassing members of staff after cultivating a toxic workplace environment that included intimidation and fear, the report charges.
Investigators pored through emails, text messages, and written accounts from members of staff, and conducted countless interviews with victims and witnesses.
According to reports, Cuomo was subject to an 11-hour round of questioning in relation to the investigation earlier this month.