Several House Democrats from New York, including Reps. Jerry Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign on Friday, increasing the pressure on the governor to step down amid an investigation into multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Nadler, the powerful chair of the House Judiciary Committee, noted that the six harassment allegations against the governor are being investigated by state Attorney General Letitia James and said that investigation should continue.
Nadler added, “But there is a difference between formal investigations that may end in charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership.”
“Gov. Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Gov. Cuomo must resign,” Nadler said in the statement.
A defiant Cuomo told reporters in a phone briefing that he won’t bow “to cancel culture” and isn’t going anywhere.
“I am not going to resign,” he said, adding that lawmakers won’t know the facts until James’ investigation is concluded.
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact yet form a conclusion or opinion are reckless and dangerous,” and the people of New York “should not have confidence” in them, Cuomo said.
Nadler’s statement was one of 13 from Democrats in New York’s congressional delegation calling on Cuomo to step down Friday, most issued within an hour of each other.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said, “I support those who spoke out about their stories and admire their courage,” and said she was joining with other Democrats who have called on Cuomo to step down “in the best interest of all New Yorkers.”
Ocasio-Cortez released a joint statement with fellow progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman also calling for Cuomo’s resignation, citing the most recent allegation against him.
“The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff. These allegations have all been consistent and highly detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts,” they said, noting that Cuomo is also being investigated for under-reporting the number of Covid-19 nursing home deaths.
“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the attorney general, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State Legislature, including the State Senate majority leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” the pair said.
Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Sean Patrick Maloney, Mondaire Jones, Adriano Espaillat, Brian Higgins, Antonio Delgado, Yvette Clarke, Paul Tonko and Grace Meng also issued calls for Cuomo to step down Friday. Rep. Kathleen Rice was the first to call for his resignation on March 1.
Cuomo has denied touching anyone inappropriately, but he has acknowledged that he acted in ways that made people feel uncomfortable. He said that was unintentional and apologized. Cuomo has said repeatedly he will not resign.
Multiple sources told NBC News that the flood of calls was “member driven” after lawmakers finally reached a tipping point.
“We’ve been testing the temperature for weeks and finally decided now Cuomo doesn’t have the gravity to lead the state,” a source with direct knowledge of the situation said, citing the latest harassment allegations and the large number of state lawmakers urging Cuomo to step aside.
The number of members of the delegation speaking out will have a “gravitational pull,” one source said.
This is “a chorus that will add many voices,” the source said.
Velázquez, who’s served in Congress since 1993, said, “There is only one way the governor can truly restore accountability and confidence to his office: he must resign.”
Meng was on MSNBC right before her statement was released, where she said she thought it had become “increasingly difficult” for Cuomo to effectively lead the state.
The calls came one day after a group of nearly 60 state lawmakers demanded Cuomo’s resignation and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment investigation into the allegations against his fellow Democrat.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Democrat, has also called for Cuomo to resign.
The pressure on Cuomo has intensified following a report in the Albany Times-Union citing an unnamed source earlier this week that said an unidentified aide had claimed Cuomo reached under her shirt and fondled her after summoning her to his official residence late last year.
A lawyer for the governor said Thursday that she reported the allegation to police after the woman involved declined to do so herself, and the matter was referred to the A.G.’s investigation.
Cuomo called the woman’s account “gut-wrenching” after the Times-Union published its report, but insisted in a statement to NBC News earlier this week that “I have never done anything like this.”
“I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the attorney general’s report,” he said.
Alex Moe and Haley Talbot contributed.