Biden Declines to Call for Cuomo’s Resignation, Will Await Investigation Outcome

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at the COVID-19 vaccination site at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, March 8, 2021. (Seth Wenig/Reuters)

President Joe Biden on Sunday declined to call for the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, even as the New York Governor is embroiled in scandals over his alleged harassment of women and his mishandling of nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think the investigation is under way and we should see what it brings us,” Biden told reporters in response to a question over whether Cuomo should step down. 

New York attorney general Letitia James announced earlier this month that her office had received a referral from the Cuomo administration allowing for an independent investigation of the harassment claims, which now include the allegations of at least seven women, including former aides.

The sexual harassment allegations come as the New York governor had already been facing a scandal over his directive early in the pandemic that forced nursing homes to accept coronavirus-positive patients from hospitals. The Cuomo administration later reportedly worked to coverup the toll the virus took on nursing homes, with top aides to the governor reportedly rewriting a July report by state health officials to conceal the number of nursing home residents who died from coronavirus in the state.

On Friday Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, joined most of the state’s congressional delegation in urging the third-term governor to resign.

The mounting calls for the governor to resign came one day after the Albany Times Union reported that a sixth woman had accused the governor of sexual misconduct.

A member of the executive chamber staff, whose name the paper withheld, says the governor “reached under her blouse and began to fondle her” last year at the Executive Mansion after she had been called to do work, according to the report.

A source reportedly told the paper that the woman, who is much younger than the 63-year-old governor, told Cuomo to stop and that her “broader allegations include that he frequently engaged in flirtatious behavior with her, and that it was not the only time that he had touched her.”

Cuomo again denied the allegations on Friday and called it “reckless and dangerous” for politicians to call for his resignation before the investigations have concluded.

“Women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear: There is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period,” Cuomo said on a call with reporters.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) also declined to call for Cuomo’s resignation, though she told ABC’s This Week that the allegations must be investigated.

“What these women have said must be treated with respect. They are credible and serious charges,” Pelosi said. “The governor should look inside his heart – he loves New York – to see if he can govern effectively.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS’ Face the Nation he did not believe the governor would resign any time soon.

“I think an impeachment proceeding will begin, and I think he will be impeached and perhaps right before that he’ll decide to resign,” said de Blasio, a Democrat. “He should resign right now because he’s holding up our effort to fight COVID. He’s literally in the way of us saving lives right now.”

New York State Assembly speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, announced last week that the body’s judiciary committee would open an impeachment inquiry into the governor’s conduct.

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