Multiple members of Congress from New York have called for Andrew Cuomo to resign, piling pressure on the governor a day after the state’s legislature announced an investigation that could pave the way for impeachment proceedings.
The calls for Cuomo to step down came in a blitz of statements on Friday morning from at least 12 Democrats representing the state in the House of Representatives, including one of the delegation’s most senior members, Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House judiciary committee, as well as younger progressives including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman.
“The repeated accusations against the governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point,” Nadler said, concluding: “Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of the people of New York. Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said it was “alarming” that the latest incident of alleged sexual assault against the governor took place just months ago, and expressed concern for the safety of his staff.
Cuomo, a three-term Democratic governor, became a national political star for his commanding performance in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. He is now fighting calls from members of his own party to remove him from power.
The governor has faced in recent weeks multiple accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour toward female staffers. Cuomo has apologised for “whatever pain I caused” but insisted he never touched anyone appropriately and said he would not resign.
He has also come under pressure for his handling of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic. The New York attorney-general found in January that his administration had undercounted Covid-19 fatalities for nursing home residents by as much as 50 per cent.
This came after a controversial order by the governor in April last year requiring nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals. The policy was intended to free up space in hospitals amid worries they would soon be overwhelmed by the pandemic, but has since been blamed by critics for spreading lethal infections among vulnerable nursing home residents.
Cuomo has repeatedly urged the public to withhold judgment until an investigation of his conduct overseen by the attorney-general is completed. There is no timetable for that review.
In the meantime, more politicians have come forward each day calling for his removal. Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, and longtime Cuomo rival, joined their ranks on Thursday, calling Cuomo’s behaviour “disgusting.”
Hours later, the Speaker of the state assembly, Carl Heastie, said he would authorise the judicial committee to begin an investigation of the governor — a move that could lead to impeachment proceedings.
A report this week in the Albany Times Union alleged that Cuomo summoned a young staffer to his mansion late last year and groped her. The matter has been referred to the Albany police. In response, Cuomo has stood by his previous reply that he never touched anyone inappropriately.
The battle to remove Cuomo, who has dominated the state’s politics for a decade, is raging as New York enters a critical juncture in its Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
The state is also in the midst of fraught budget negotiations, with many progressive Democrats determined to push through higher taxes on the wealthy as well as other priorities that the centrist governor has thwarted in the past.
In his statement, Nadler, one of the leaders of the impeachment trial of the former president Donald Trump, acknowledged that the investigations of the governor were not complete, but argued that it was time to act.
“There is a difference between formal investigations that may end in criminal charges and a question of confidence in our political leadership,” he said. “The question before us is squarely a political judgment.”