In announcing his resignation Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he was falling on his own sword to help New York state’s government “avoid the distractions” of a potential impeachment over the sexual harassment investigation against him.
Cuomo will hand the reins over to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul on Aug. 24, making her the first female governor in Empire State history. Despite acting to put a dark chapter of that history behind the state, Cuomo also denied any wrongdoing and apologized for any pain he may have caused, saying during his address from his Midtown office, “I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Cuomo concluded that the sexual harassment scandal had crippled his administration, and he did not want to distract the state from important work to be done.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government and therefore, that’s what I’ll do because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you,” Cuomo said, blaming the toxic state of politics in the week since Attorney General Letitia James released her report on Aug. 4 into the allegations of 11 women who claimed Cuomo sexually harassed them in the workplace.
The governor insisted that he didn’t act with malicious intent, but pleaded ignorance of the changing social climate.
“I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men,” Cuomo said. “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the line had been redrawn.”
But while he did accept responsibility for his actions, Cuomo added that “there are many agendas and many motivations at play,” and that “this is all about politics.”
Cuomo said he is a fighter “and my instinct is to fight through this,” but realized that New Yorkers face too many challenges at the moment including the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic — which has become more dangerous with the spread of the Delta variant. He also stressed public safety in the violence that has wracked New York City in recent months.
“New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way,” Cuomo said.
He also referred to his three daughters and had a message for them.
“I want them to know, from the bottom of my heart: I never did, and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman or treat a woman differently than I would want them treated,” Cuomo said. “Your dad made mistakes. And he apologized. And he learned from it. And that’s what life is all about.”
Cuomo framed his decision as doing the right thing on behalf of all New Yorkers who fought through the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the way for the nation and showing the way forward.
“Thank you for letting me serve you. It has been the honor of a lifetime,” Cuomo concluded. “God bless you.”