De Blasio, New York Democrats demand that Cuomo resign over sexual harassment

A billboard urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down can be seen in Albany, New York, near downtown on March 2, 2021.

Matthew Cavanaugh | Getty Images

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and nearly 60 Democratic members of the New York Legislature on Thursday called for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over multiple sexual harassment and a cover-up of Covid death dates.

The demands came a day after an Albany newspaper reported that a Cuomo employee accused the Democrats of aggressively fumbling around the governor’s mansion last year.

Three former Cuomo aides and several other women had already accused him of sexual harassment or inappropriate comments and physical contact.

“It is deeply troubling,” said de Blasio, a frequent opponent of Cuomo, during a press conference, referring to the new claim.

“The specific claim that the governor called one of his employees, someone he had power over, into a private place and then sexually assaulted them is absolutely unacceptable to me,” said de Blasio, who is himself a Democrat.

“It’s disgusting to me and he can no longer serve as governor.”

Assembly spokesman Carl Heastie, another Democrat, said in a statement Thursday: “Given the allegations about the governor over the past few weeks, I will meet with members today at a conference on possible ways forward.”

Heastie said last week he shared the “sentiment” expressed by Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​after the Democrat asked Cuomo to step down.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said during an interview on ABC’s “The View” program: “These women’s allegations are very, very disturbing. Last night was particularly nasty. You all must his looked in. “

But Schumer stood still to ask Cuomo to resign, saying instead that he had confidence in New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is overseeing an investigation into the allegations, to “turn every stone”.

At the start of this investigation, a federal criminal investigation aimed at suppressing data on coronavirus-related deaths among nursing home residents by Cuomo aides.

Cuomo, who has repeatedly refused to resign over the past week, denied his adjutant’s new groping claim, just as he had previously denied ever being physically inappropriate with women.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Cuomo said on Wednesday through a spokesman. He called the claim “bowel pain”.

The governor had said after the first wave of allegations against him last week: “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”

“I was unintentional,” said Cuomo, who said he often kissed people, men and women, to greet them.

In a joint letter on Thursday, 59 Democratic members of the State Assembly and the Senate suggested that Cuomo’s earlier comments effectively admitted “inappropriate behavior”.

As a result, as well as due to the “results of changed data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes”, the letter says: “He has lost the trust of the public and the state parliament, which makes him ineffective at this time.” most urgent need. “

And while the letter’s signatories said they were “completely confident” that James could thoroughly investigate the allegations, “In the meantime, the governor must put the people of New York first.”

“We have a lieutenant governor [Kathy Hochul] Who can stand in and lead for the remainder of the term, and that’s best for New Yorkers at this critical time. “

“It is time for Governor Cuomo to step down,” the letter reads.

The number of signatories to this demand accounts for nearly 40% of the Democratic Party’s total membership in the Assembly and Senate, where it has a solid majority.

Forty of the letter signers serve in the congregation. If all of these Democrats teamed up with the 43 Republicans in the assembly, they would have seven votes more than the minimum of 76 votes required to indict the governor.

The Albany Times Union reported Wednesday that an aide from Cuomo had told a prosecutor that the governor had called her to his mansion last year “on the obvious pretext that she was helping the governor with a minor technical problem with his cell phone .

“They were alone in Cuomo’s private residence on the second floor of the mansion when he closed the door and allegedly reached under her blouse and started petting her,” the newspaper reported, citing a source.

“The person who is not empowered to comment publicly said the woman – who is much younger than Cuomo – told the governor to stop,” the Times Union reported. “Her more general allegations include that he was often flirtatious with her and that it wasn’t the only time he touched her.”

Debra Katz, an attorney who represents former Cuomo advisor Charlotte Bennett, said the Times Union allegations were “eerily similar to what happened to her”.

“Charlotte was called to the Capitol on a Saturday, left in isolation with the governor, and asked to help him with minor technical problems with his phone,” said Katz.

“Charlotte reported this behavior and the governor’s sexual suggestion to his senior aides, including his special adviser Judith Mogul. In response, these aides did not report Charlotte’s claims to the governor’s employee relations office as required by law.” Lawyer said.

But Katz added, “The governor’s sexual harassment reported by Charlotte Bennett was buried by his aides and was never properly investigated. Another young woman was put at risk because of her abilities. The governor’s staff had the allegations made by Charlotte Bennett and having assumed serious legal obligations, perhaps this woman would have been spared this sexual assault. “

“That the governor does not deny touching people, but insists that he has never done it inappropriately, shows that he is committed to lighting victims with gas and upholding those lies. This is exactly how abusers work,” said the lawyer.

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