Vice President Kamala Harris has expressed clear views on a range of controversial topics throughout her career in public office — but she remains conspicuously tight-lipped regarding Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s growing scandal.
At an event geared toward women’s rights this week, Harris attracted a renewed backlash for ignoring the sexual harassment claims against the governor.
“A marker of a flawed democracy”
Cuomo has faced varying accusations by seven women in recent weeks, including one former staffer who claimed that he groped her.
Despite the objective seriousness of the claims, which have led to bipartisan calls for him to step down or face impeachment, some high-ranking Democrats and self-styled advocates for victims of sexual assault are nowhere to be found.
Harris portrayed herself as an ally to such women during her time in the U.S. Senate, most notably by leading the charge against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.
Last week, however, the vice president ignored a reporter who asked a question on the topic of Cuomo. Furthermore, she had nothing to say on the matter during a United Nations event during which she spoke about the global “empowerment” of women in an abstract sense.
“The status of democracy also depends fundamentally on the empowerment of women, not only because the exclusion of women in decision making is a marker of a flawed democracy, but because the participation of women strengthens democracy,” Harris said.
“Their voices should be heard”
Her perceived hypocrisy on the topic is nothing new. Prior to joining the Biden campaign last year, she declared that she believed women who accused powerful men — including President Joe Biden — of touching them inappropriately.
Critics have slammed her noncommittal response to the Cuomo scandal as politically expedient. One of the governor’s accusers even called the vice president’s “courage” into question.
“I think the vice president’s view is she believes a woman should be treated with respect,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “Their voices should be heard.”
A number of other progressives, such as Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have been more outspoken in their denouncement of Cuomo, unequivocally calling on him to step down.