Various Brooklyn pols are renewing their calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign after the release of a damning report by State Attorney General Letitia James that substantiates accusations of sexual harassment against the governor. And some others are making the call for the first time.
James’ report outlined substantiated allegations of sexual harassment by the governor against 11 women, some previously publicized and some not. The report also calls the culture of the governor’s office “toxic” and contributory to the harassment, maintaining that Cuomo and top staffers attempted to professionally retaliate against some of the victims. James said that 179 people were interviewed during the probe, including Cuomo himself, who was grilled for 11 hours by the AG’s counsel, former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and employment attorney Anne Clark.
In a pre-taped message, the governor responded to the report by denying he had touched anyone inappropriately, questioning the motives of James and the prosecutors, and claiming that the conduct he is accused of is part of his general behavior with everyone, showcasing a montage of himself kissing numerous people as proof.
What happens next for the governor is unclear, except for the fact that he, at the moment, doesn’t appear intent on resigning. Impeachment, however, could be on the table.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday reiterated her earlier call for Cuomo to resign, while Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, whose chamber would have to initiate impeachment proceedings, said the governor’s conduct “would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” though he stopped short of calling for his resignation or impeachment.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn electeds are reacting to the news, with some echoing previous stances, while others take their first stance.
Borough President and Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, who resisted joining the chorus calling for resignation earlier this year, said on Aug. 3 that Cuomo should resign or be impeached if he doesn’t leave voluntarily.
“Attorney General James conducted a thorough and revealing investigation that yielded disturbing conclusions about the conduct of Governor Cuomo,” Adams said. “It is now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the Governor will not resign.”
Adams’ statement is notable for a few reasons: he is most likely the incoming mayor of a city which Cuomo has outsize control over, and the two have had something of a chummy relationship since Adams won the primary on June 22. If Cuomo remains in office, it could signal a coming relationship between the two more akin to the contentious Cuomo-de Blasio dynamic than many had expected.
Another notable call for resignation came from US Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who as Chair of the House Democratic Caucus is one of the most powerful members of the Democratic Party nationally, and is considered something of a kingmaker locally. He was one of the few members of the state’s Congressional delegation that had not already called on the governor to resign when the allegations first surfaced earlier this year, but on Tuesday he made his position clear.
“The Office of Attorney General Tish James conducted a complete, thorough and professional investigation of the disturbing allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo,” Jeffries said in a joint statement with Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks and Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi. “The investigation has found that the Governor engaged in abusive behavior toward women, including subordinates, created a hostile work environment and violated state and federal law. We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power. The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the governor should resign and that if he doesn’t, he should be impeached.
“It is beyond clear that Andrew Cuomo is not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as Governor. He must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately.”
Another reiterator is Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a frequent critic of the governor. “Andrew Cuomo has acted for his entire political career with abrasive impunity, but his shamelessness cannot equate with immunity,” Williams said. “He created a culture of abuse which he has long employed to evade accountability, but the creation of that culture itself demands accountability. He cannot continue to serve as governor, and he must resign immediately or be impeached expeditiously.”
US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand also called on the governor to resign.
“No elected official is above the law,” they said in a joint statement. “The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
State Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblymember Diana Richardson, prominent Central Brooklyn lawmakers who last month stood with Cuomo to announce a new initiative to combat gun violence, both renewed their previous calls for the governor to resign.
In the Assembly, Brooklyn members Emily Gallagher, Robert Carroll, Phara Souffrant Forrest, and Jo Anne Simon called on the body to impeach Cuomo soon after the release of the AG’s report, after all calling for his resignation. Others in the Assembly who have called for impeachment in the past include Charles Barron, Simcha Eichenstein, Mathylde Frontus, and Marcela Mitaynes, though they have not released statements on the AG’s report.
The city’s lone Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who represents Staten Island and Bay Ridge, said James’ report revealed “abhorrent sexual misconduct” engaged in by Cuomo. She called on her former colleagues in the Assembly to “convene a special session and resume its impeachment proceedings.”
“The Governor’s denial of these investigated incidents shows that he thinks he is too big to fail and it is an insult to his victims,” she said. “We must restore dignity to the Governor’s office.”
A number of female Brooklyn legislators had, back in March, signed onto a letter asking that James be allowed to complete her investigation before the Assembly moves to impeach. As of early Tuesday afternoon, most had not made statements, including Maritza Davila, Latrice Walker, Helene Weinstein, and Stefani Zinerman. Others who have not made the call include William Colton, Peter Abbate, Erik Dilan, N. Nick Perry, and Jaime Williams.
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, who signed onto the March letter calling for due process, released a statement Tuesday afternoon calling Cuomo “unfit to serve” and calling on him to resign. The pol, who in addition to serving in the Assembly is also Brooklyn Democratic Party chair, made waves earlier this year when she compared calls for Cuomo’s resignation to the railroading of the Central Park Five, the wrongfully convicted teens who spent years in prison before they were exonerated.
Members of the State Senate, which would hold the governor’s trial if the Assembly impeached him, are also making their thoughts known. Senators Jabari Brisport, Julia Salazar, and Andrew Gounardes renewed calls for resignation and impeachment Tuesday; Brian Kavanagh had previously called for it but hasn’t made a statement yet Tuesday. Senator Diane Savino called for Cuomo’s resignation Tuesday, but did not call for impeachment. Holdouts include Senators Simcha Felder, Roxanne Persaud, and Kevin Parker.
Some prominent Brooklyn pols, however, had not yet made a statement by publication.
Note: This story is being updated as new statements are made.