Schumer, Gillibrand join House Democrats from New York in urging Cuomo to resign

Governor is losing support in party as harassment scandal continues

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conducts a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on May 27. Many New York Democrats in the House have called on him to resign amid a growing harassment scandal.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo conducts a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on May 27. Many New York Democrats in the House have called on him to resign amid a growing harassment scandal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 12, 2021 at 1:02pm, Updated at 6:24pm

New York’s two senators, Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, have joined a majority of fellow Democrats in their state’s House delegation in calling on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to resign, as a groping and sexual harassment scandal continued to envelop the embattled Democrat.

Schumer and Gillibrand in a joint Friday statement cited “multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations” and commended the women who have come forward against Cuomo.

“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership,” the senators said. “It is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”

The call came after Cuomo rejected calls to resign from many in the state’s House delegation, including Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Cuomo has denied an allegation from a female aide who came forward this week saying that said he groped her in the Executive Mansion in Albany. A former secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the son of a former governor, Cuomo had previously apologized for using language that made others feel uncomfortable. So far, six women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment, The New York Times reported.

In a call with reporters Friday afternoon, Cuomo continued to say he would await the findings of investigations underway and took aim, without naming names, at those seeking his ouster.

“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” he said in a recording played on CNN. “The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance. That, my friends, is politics at its worst. … People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth.”

Democratic support for the once-celebrated Cuomo, who received praise for his state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and even an International Emmy award for his popular daily briefings in the depths of the lockdown, has eroded quickly. New York state lawmakers opened an impeachment inquiry against him Thursday, and a stream of statements calling for his resignation came out Friday from the congressional delegation.

Democrats in Congress who spoke out against the embattled governor Friday also pointed to reporting and a state attorney general’s report on his administration's actions that concealed how many residents of nursing homes died from COVID-19. 

“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” a joint statement from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman read. 

The resignation calls from Democrats have come from beyond the New York City area delegation, including Brian Higgins, who represents Buffalo, Joseph D. Morelle, who represents Rochester, Paul Tonko, who represents the Albany area, and Antonio Delgado, who holds a Hudson Valley area seat.

Higgins said in a statement that he had previously supported ongoing and independent investigations of Cuomo but “given continuing new accounts, it is clearly time for the Governor to resign.” 

Others who called on Cuomo to resign Friday included Reps. Grace MengAdriano EspaillatNydia M. VelázquezMondaire Jones, Yvette D. Clarke, Ritchie Torres and Sean Patrick Maloney.

Rep. Kathleen Rice was the first congressional Democrat to call on Cuomo to step down, tweeting, “The time has come,” on March 1.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said in a Friday evening statement that Cuomo “must seriously consider whether he can continue to lead the state. No one is above the law.”

Reps. Tom Suozzi and Gregory W. Meeks issued statements saying Cuomo should resign if he could not govern effectively.