New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for his past behavior following allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior by three women during a news conference Wednesday, telling reporters that he is “embarrassed” by his actions and will cooperate with the New York attorney general’s investigation of his conduct.
During a briefing that first focused on developments in the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo shifted to address the brewing scandal, stating that he was ignoring the advice of attorneys to address the public.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it,” Cuomo said. “I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it.”
Cuomo went on to say that he “never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable,” that he has “learned an important lesson,” and “will be the better for this experience.”
When asked later, Cuomo said that he had taken the sexual harassment sensitivity training that is required of state workers.
The governor also stressed that he “never touched anyone inappropriately.” When asked about the photograph of him gripping the face of Anna Ruch, who accused him of grabbing her face and kissing her cheek without permission, Cuomo claimed that it is a “customary” way for him to greet people.
“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people, women, men, children, etc., Cuomo said. “You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. Men, women, it is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
Nevertheless, he said he understands Ruch’s “opinion and feelings.”
Cuomo also urged people not to form opinions on the allegations until after New York Attorney General Letitia James concludes her investigation and reports her findings.
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer who was the first to accuse him of sexual harassment, was not impressed with his apologies.
“How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” Boylan tweeted.
Nearly 30 Democratic and Republican New York lawmakers have stated that Cuomo should either resign or face impeachment in the wake of the allegations and the scandal surrounding nursing home deaths during the pandemic.
Similarly, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that if the allegations against the governor are true, “he can not govern.”
Cuomo made it clear on Wednesday that he has no plans to go anywhere.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said.
Cuomo angered de Blasio’s office when he listed a number of pressing needs that he must address as governor, stating that New York City is “teetering” and “in a very precarious situation.” Cuomo pointed to rising crime and homelessness, as well as people moving out of the city.
“We have to get New York City functional again, and safe again, and viable again,” Cuomo said, noting that a new mayor will be elected this year.
De Blasio representative Avery Cohen fired back on Twitter.
“Attacking the Mayor’s leadership as a means to vindicate yourself of serious sexual misconduct allegations is really something else,” Cohen said.
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