US President Joe Biden has suggested New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should resign, standing by the recommendation he made when the once-favored Democrat was initially accused of sexual misconduct by 11 women.
Biden cleared up intense speculation among the party faithful when he suggested the three-term New York governor call it quits during a press conference on Tuesday.
“I think he should resign,” the president ventured, even while admitting he hadn’t actually read the report from New York Attorney General Letitia James into the sexual harassment investigations that have piled up around Cuomo since December.
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Even before Biden gave the thumbs-down on Cuomo, the publication of James’ report had triggered a renewed outpouring of calls for the governor to resign from other high-ranking Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (New York) both called for him to step down, calling “the reported actions of the Governor…profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, never a big fan of Cuomo’s, also insisted he resign.
President Joe Biden had previously said he would support Cuomo’s resignation if the investigation confirmed the harassment allegations, though some wondered if he might hold back from speaking up due to the possibility it would reopen discussion of his own sexual misconduct allegations. Several women have accused Biden of touching them inappropriately.
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Biden was unwilling to venture any further than his suggestion that Cuomo resign, specifically regarding the possibility of impeachment or prosecution. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie launched an impeachment probe into Cuomo earlier this year and announced on Tuesday that it would be forwarded to Assembly members and legal staff with the aim of moving it forward. Attorney General James declined to make a recommendation as to whether Cuomo should be prosecuted in her office’s report.
Following Biden’s confirmation that he would back Cuomo’s departure, Speaker Heastie confirmed that lawmakers would conclude the impeachment investigation “as quickly as possible.” He said the governor “has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority” and “can no longer remain in office.”
Earlier on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also called for Cuomo’s resignation, triggering the avalanche of high-ranking party members that have since abandoned the governor, who once held presidential ambitions.
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The sexual harassment scandal is far from the only albatross hanging around Cuomo’s neck at the moment, though it has helped to shift most of the focus off other significant charges that have been leveled against him. James’ office also found that the New York Health Department systematically undercounted the number of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, making tens of thousands of victims of institutional incompetence or worse disappear over the course of at least five months of statistical chicanery.
The New York Health Department had issued an incriminating memo in April 2020 forbidding nursing homes from denying admission to Covid-positive and likely Covid-positive patients newly discharged from hospitals, despite understanding that the highly contagious disease could tear through such facilities “like fire through dry grass.” When the coronavirus rolled over the US, New York quickly became the worst hotspot in the nation and, for a while, the world. While Cuomo retracted the memo several months later, the damage had already been done. The governor then congratulated himself on his stellar handling of the pandemic by publishing a self-adulatory autobiography called “American Crisis.” The question of whether he might have misused office resources in the writing and publication of the book is currently under investigation by James’ office.
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