In a surprise announcement at noon on Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned from office, effective in 14 days.
Nearly all Republicans and Democrats in the state government, as well as prominent national Democrat leaders like President Joe Biden, called on Cuomo to resign one week after a report form the New York Attorney General’s office confirmed that he had sexually harassed at least 11 women and created a hostile work environment.
As of Friday, however, Cuomo was claiming innocence and refusing to resign. His lawyers released a rebuttal to the AG report on Friday claiming that it contained inaccurate information and was done to target Cuomo rather than as an objective investigation.
Cuomo did not stop claiming his innocence during the press conference that announced his resignation, but he said that the political climate was “too hot” for him to stay in office and that it would be better for the state if he stepped aside.
“The best way I can help”
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said in a televised address.
Cuomo was facing impeachment from the legislature, which would take months and could impede the ability of the state government to function.
His lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, who will become governor when his resignation takes effect, tweeted that Cuomo’s resignation was “the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.”
Cuomo had planned to run for governor again in 2022–it would have been his fourth term in the office.
He had also been mentioned as a future presidential candidate, but his political future is shaky at best now.
Criminal charges still possible
It is still possible that Cuomo will face criminal charges for his actions. After the report’s release last week, local district attorneys were said to be looking into the allegations and information it contained.
But the likelihood of pursuing criminal penalties against Cuomo is probably less with him out of office.
Cuomo is the third New York Governor in a row to be basically forced out of office because of scandal. Elliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 due to a prostitution scandal, and his replacement David Patterson pulled out of a campaign in 2010 over witness tampering allegations.