ALBANY (CN) — Prominent members of New York's congressional delegation lent their voices Friday to the demand for Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign in the wake of half a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
While the 63-year-old Democratic governor apologized for having made women uncomfortable, he denies he ever touched anyone inappropriately and has steadfastly renounced calls for his resignation from nearly five dozen members of the state Legislature.
Several high-profile New York Democratic congressional members — including U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman — joined those state lawmakers on Friday demanding Cuomo cede his office.
Echoing the messaging of a joint letter signed by 59 state Democrats a day earlier, Nadler said Cuomo has lost the confidence of New Yorkers and must step down.
"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 wrote in a Friday statement.
Cortez and Bowman, members of New York’s delegation to the House of Representatives, released a joint letter on Friday morning, voicing their support for the accusers and demanding Cuomo resign.
The statements follow New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's announcement Thursday that he has authorized the Assembly Judiciary Committee to begin an inquiry on whether there are grounds to impeach Cuomo.
Cuomo reprised his refusal to step down during a 25-minute conference call on Friday afternoon, in which he also repeated his denial of any inappropriate touching.
“There is still a question of the truth,” he said.
“I did not do what is alleged, period,” Cuomo said, again urging New Yorkers to withhold forming an opinion on the allegations until the attorney general and state assembly publish the findings of their respective investigations.
Deriding the latest calls for his resignation from state lawmakers and congressional delegates as “politics at its worst” and emblematic of “cancel culture,” Cuomo said he would not be arguing his case in the press.
"People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth. Let the review proceed, I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people," he said.
“What is being alleged simply did not happen and that’s why you have to wait to get the facts,” Cuomo said on Friday, vowing to proceed with the upcoming state budget and expanded rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations.
During a weekly appearance on the Brian Lehrer radio show earlier that morning, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Cuomo “needs to go.” regardless of where the ongoing probes currently stand.
“The investigation has to continue with or without Andrew Cuomo being in office, because it is about much bigger issues,” the mayor said. “Who enabled the sexual harassment? Who did not act on it when it was reported? Who covered up the nursing home scandal? What does it mean for our future? The investigation has to be completed any way you slice it. “
Heastie announced the assembly investigation in a statement Thursday evening following an emergency session.
“After meeting with the Assembly Majority Conference today, I am authorizing led by Chair Charles D. Lavine, to examine allegations of misconduct against Governor Cuomo,” he said.
“The reports of accusations concerning the governor are serious. The committee will have the authority to interview witnesses, subpoena documents and evaluate evidence, as is allowed by the New York State Constitution,” he added.
The New York Constitution grants the 150-member state Assembly the power to impeach officials by the vote of a simple majority, or 76 lawmakers. Just one governor – William “Plain Bill” Sulzer – has ever been impeached in the state.
Historians believe Sulzer’s impeachment in 1913 stemmed from his refusal to end investigations into the corrupt political bosses of New York City’s Tammany Hall.
New York Attorney General Letitia James noted that the assembly’s impeachment inquiry will not hinder the state’s independent investigation.
“Today’s action by the New York state Legislature will have no bearing on our independent investigation into these allegations against Governor Cuomo,” James said Thursday.
“Our investigation will continue,” the state’s top prosecutor added.Follow @jruss_jruss
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