Cuomo complains allegations behind his exit ‘undermine justice system’

New York governor leaves office actively criticising the report that sent him out as a ‘political firecracker’

Eric Garcia
Monday 23 August 2021 17:09
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Cuomo complains allegations behind his exit 'undermine justice system' in farewell address
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New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him that prompted his resignation “undermine the justice system,” in his farewell address.

Mr Cuomo, who announced he would resign after the state’s attorney general’s office released a report detailing allegations he sexually harassed 11 women, criticised the accusations against him on Monday.

“Let me say now that when government politicises allegations and the headlines condemn without facts, you undermine the justice system,” he said. “And that doesn’t serve women, and it doesn’t serve men or society.”

Mr Cuomo said allegations must be “scrutinised and verified”.

“That is our basic justice system,” he said.

The report accused Mr Cuomo of “engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women”.

In one example, he recruited a state trooper for his protective services unit despite the fact she did not meet the requirements and then proceeded to ask her to find him a girlfriend who can “handle pain”. He also allegedly rubbed his hand across the officer’s stomach, ran his finger down her back and kissed her on the cheek in front of another state trooper.

Mr Cuomo was also accused of groping one executive assistant’s backside and kissing her on the lips.

“I understand there are moments of intense political pressure and media frenzy that cause a rush to judgment,” he said on Monday. “But that is not right, it’s not fair or sustainable. Facts still matter.”

Mr Cuomo criticised the attorney general’s report as politically divisive.

“The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic and it worked,” he said. “There was a political and media stampede, but the truth will out in time. Of that, I am confident.”

The governor added that his temptation was to fight the allegations.

“You know me, I am a fighter,” Mr Cuomo said. “And my instinct is to fight this because it is unfair and unjust in my mind.”

But he added that his love of the state meant it was best for him to step aside.

“In this moment, I believe the right thing is that my service come first,” he said. “Prolonging this situation can only cause governmental paralysis and that is just not an option for you and not an option for the state, especially now.”

The allegations began in earnest late last year when Ms Boylan accused him of sexually harassing her. But they reignited after Assemblyman Ron Kim revealed Mr Cuomo had verbally berated him, which put increased attention on Ms Boylan’s accusations.

Afterward, more women came forward accusing him of untoward behavior. The attorney general’s report corroborated the allegations of Ms Boylan and Charlotte Bennett.

Many New York politicians, including US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, had called for Mr Cuomo to step aside after the report. Similarly, Democrats in the state legislature had already begun the process to begin impeaching Mr Cuomo, who was elected to three terms. Similarly, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called on him to resign.

Throughout the address, Mr Cuomo also criticised more left-wing elements of his party, denouncing calls to defund the police or policies that he said alienate businesses. He also touted his accomplishments such as passing same-sex marriage and gun control laws.

Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou criticized Mr Cuomo’s words, saying he had multiple opportunities to be a better leader.

“Chose himself every time. Goodbye, Governor Cuomo,” she tweeted.

Lt Gov Kathy Hochul will soon take office and he said she would step up to the challenge and praised Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for New York Mayor, saying he will bring a new “philosophy and competence” to the job, in a swing at his longtime rival current Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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