New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo increasingly alienated members of his own party as scandals related to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic continued to unfold.
Cuomo faced renewed calls from Democrats to resign after a New York Times report revealed that his aides had repeatedly suppressed the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes that resulted from one of the governor’s orders from early in the pandemic. The report came as Cuomo continues to battle sexual harassment accusations and faces the threat of impeachment from state lawmakers and several investigations from state Attorney General Letitia James.
On Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the time for Cuomo to resign is months overdue.
“He can’t continue to lead — the nursing home scandal, sexual harassment and assault scandal, using his staff to write his book. I mean, it just, it doesn’t end,” de Blasio said. “He just has to go.”
De Blasio’s sentiment was shared by numerous other New York Democrats, as well as many Republicans, who have been gunning for Cuomo to step down since his scandals began receiving widespread media coverage at the beginning of the year.
“In the middle of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo and his team concealed information and withheld data regarding the deaths of thousands of seniors, all the while blaming everyone else for an issue they created,” said Will Barclay, the Republican minority leader of the State Assembly. “There needs to be immediate accountability.”
On Monday, Cuomo faced an equally hostile press when he took questions at his first in-person press briefing since November. When addressing the sexual harassment allegation leveled at him by at least 10 women, Cuomo denied any wrongdoing. He added that James’s report would reflect his positions.
“The report can’t say anything different because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo previously struck a more conciliatory tone in press briefings, saying that his comments and gestures toward women in his office had been misinterpreted. Throughout the public ordeal, Cuomo has refused to resign despite calls from top Democrats that he do so.
On Thursday, the governor doubled down on his comments that James’s report will vindicate him. During an event in Buffalo, he told reporters that he had not heard from the attorney general’s office yet but that he was “eager” to tell his side of the story.
“I used to tell people when I was attorney general,” he said. “When someone came in and said, ‘Well, I heard this,’ I said, ‘Until you hear both sides of the story, you haven’t heard anything.’ People have heard one side of the story. I can’t tell you how eager I am to tell my side of the story, and the time will come.”
Cuomo added that he believed that both the press and his accusers are being unfair to him.
“Theoretically, the way it’s supposed to work is the AG, the Assembly, say, ‘We’re doing a review.’ They then do a review, and the review is done privately,” he said. “Here, what has happened is the complainants have continued to go to the press and make their complaint in the press, and I have not been able to respond. That’s not fair, and it’s not right.”
Democrats in the New York State Assembly are leading an impeachment investigation against Cuomo. Some members of the body have also begun leading an effort to override the governor’s pandemic orders, which have set the tone for life in New York in the past year. Democrats in both the House and Senate moved to end restaurant restrictions on Thursday, as well as outdated restrictions on vaccine distribution.
These moves came about two months after Democrats stripped Cuomo of the far-reaching executive authorities he had been granted at the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are asserting ourselves as a legislature as we promised we would do,” Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said on Thursday. “And these repeals are just the beginning.”