Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Disgraced Andrew Cuomo slams ‘cancel culture’ and ‘political sharks’ in first public address since resignation

Former governor claims he and brother Chris Cuomo were victims of ‘cancel culture’ and hints at political comeback

Rachel Sharp
Sunday 06 March 2022 21:03 GMT
Andrew Cuomo gives first public address since resignation

Disgraced former New York GovernorAndrew Cuomo has slammed “cancel culture” and “political sharks” in his first public address since he resigned amid a string of sexual harassment allegations.

The 64-year-old gave an impassioned 25-minute speech on Sunday to the church congregation at God’s Battalion of Prayer in Brooklyn, New York City, where he hit out at the state probe that found he had sexually harassed multiple women – ultimately leading to his downfall.

Mr Cuomo also slammed CNN for firing his brother Chris Cuomo as an anchor on its network and appeared to hint at a political comeback.

“As you probably know I’ve gone through a difficult period the past few months,” he said.

“I resigned as governor, the press roasted me, my colleagues were ridiculed, my brother was fired. It was ugly.”

The former governor said that he hadn’t spoken publicly about the scandal until now but was ready to tell “my truth”.

“So let me tell you my truth and get it off my chest so we can talk about the important issues we face today,” he said.

Mr Cuomo continued to blame generational differences for his behaviour – something he repeatedly claimed as multiple women came forward with allegations last year.

“Last February, several women raised issues about my behaviour. As I said then and I say to you today in this holy hall today, my behaviour has been the same for 40 years in public life,” he said.

“You have seen me many, many times and that has been my behaviour.

“But that was the problem. Because for some, especially younger people, there is a new sensitivity.

“No one ever told me I made them feel uncomfortable and I never sensed that I caused any discomfort to anyone. I was trying to do the exact opposite.

“But I have been called by some old fashioned, out of touch and been told that my behaviour was not politically correct or appropriate. I accept that. I accept that.”

He claimed that “social norms evolve” and he “didn’t appreciate how fast their perspective changed and I should have”.

The former governor said he was “truly sorry” and had “learned a powerful lesson and I paid a very high price for learning it”.

Andrew Cuomo gave his first public speech since his resignation (WROC)

Despite his apology, he went on to insist that he was the victim of “political sharks in Albany” who exploited the situation for political gain, saying that his late father – former Governor Mario Cuomo – had warned him about “that politics can be a dirty business”.

“The truth is also that contrary to what my political opponents would have you believe, nothing I did violated the law or the regulation,” he said.

“The political sharks in Albany smelled blood and when the sharks smell blood they come and they exploited the situation for their own political purpose.”

Mr Cuomo resigned in shame back in August after multiple women – including current and former aides in his office – came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.

The most damning allegation came from a current aide who alleged that he groped her breast in the executive mansion in Albany.

An investigation from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office found that he had sexually harassed at least 11 women and that his office had retaliated against at least one of the accusers when she came forward with the allegations.

Mr Cuomo announced his resignation one week later.

In his resignation speech, he admitted he made “mistakes” but continued to insist he had never touched anyone inappropriately.

Over the months that followed, five criminal cases were opened and closed into allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

The final case was shuttered by the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office in January, appearing to end any chances of the politician facing criminal charges for his alleged actions.

Mr Cuomo blasted Ms James’ probe and claimed that the dropping of the charges was proof that he did not break any laws.

Chris Cuomo was fired in December from CNN after advising his brother about the sexual harassment allegations (2019 Invision)

“Now, they did a report that said there were 11 cases against me. Since then – since last August, five District Attorneys have investigated the report of the much publicized 11 violations of law and do you know how many cases of the 11 they found to bring,” he said.

“How many of the 11? What’s your guess? 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 – zero, zero cases.

“Why? Because there is a difference between an individual’s opinion as to what they believe is offensive behavior and a legal violation.”

He added: “So 11 months later the truth is known. But it’s too late. Justice too long delayed is justice denied.

“The report did the damage it was designed to do. My father was right: politics can be a dirty business.”

Rather than exonerating him, several district attorneys said the allegations from the women were “credible” but that there was not enough evidence to prosecute him.

The Democrat went on to claim that he was the victim of “cancel culture” from members of his own party who “wanted my job”.

“My situation is illustrative of a larger issue that must be addressed because it endangers us all,” he said.

“The truth is the so-called cancel culture mentality is growing, it is dangerous and Democrats must beware.

“The actions against me were prosecutorial misconduct – that is clear. They did not act in the interest of justice – the district attorneys proved that -- they acted in their own self-interest.

“They wanted me out because they wanted my job. We know that was their motivation by their own actions.”

Ms James announced her run for New York governor in October – two months after the release of her report into Mr Cuomo’s behaviour – before dropping out of the race in December.

Mr Cuomo claimed his brother Chris was also a victim of cancel culture when he was fired by CNN in December for advising his brother about how to handle the sexual harassment accusations.

“He had nothing to do with anything, they fired him and they said he violated a journalistic rule,” he said.

“He wasn’t reporting on the story, he wasn’t a journalist, he is my brother.”

New York AG Letitia James’ probe found that the then-governor had sexually harassed 11 women (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

He hit out at CNN saying they “used the relationship to their benefit when it suited them” before firing Chris because they were “afraid of the cancel culture mob”.

In the aftermath of the CNN prime-time host’s firing, a report from the New York Times said that the network had also been contacted by a woman who accused him of misconduct when he worked at ABC News prior to joining CNN.

Cancel culture means that “Twitter and newspaper headlines have replaced a judge and a jury”, said Mr Cuomo – branding it a “frightening new world”.

“Social media and Twitter spread cancel culture like a virus. They allow the extreme minority to overpower the reasonable majority,” he told the congregants.

“When the emotion of the mob overcomes the integrity of the justice system, the intelligence of sound policy debate and honest analysis by the press, we are lost.

“The cancel culture is evidence of a new extremism.”

The former governor went on to claim that many members of the press told him they knew the allegations against him were false.

“Don’t underestimate the strength and virulence of the cancel culture. It’s not just in politics,” he said.

“Today even some members of the press are afraid to ask questions that challenge the so-called politically correct cancel culture thinking.

“Do you know how many reporters told me they knew the report against me was a fraud but were afraid to challenge Me Too claims?”

Mr Cuomo stopped short of announcing a new run for office but concluded his speech by warning about the threat Donald Trump poses to the nation and calling on his listeners to “stand up” against radicalisation and racism and “make some good trouble”.

“If you want to cancel something – cancel the federal gridlock, cancel the incompetence, cancel the infighting. Cancel crime, cancel homelessness. Cancel education inequality. Cancel poverty. Cancel racism,” he said.

He concluded: “Let’s make some trouble, let’s make some good trouble and let’s make this state the greatest state in the nation.”

Rumours have been swirling that the former governor is preparing to stage a comeback on the political stage.

Days before his first public appearance since his resignation, Mr Cuomo launched a TV ad titled “Politics vs. The Law” where he indicated that the dropping of criminal probes into his alleged misconduct was an exoneration.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in