As the walls closed in on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday with dozens of Democratic lawmakers calling for him to go, he invoked a new defense to accusations of sexual harassment: It’s cancel culture.
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact but yet form a conclusion and then [an] opinion are, in my opinion, reckless and dangerous,” he said during a phone briefing that was supposed to be about coronavirus. “That, my friends, is politics at its worst. People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture, and the truth.”
Pressure for him to resign reached fever pitch on Friday, with almost half of all state Democrats and the majority of New York’s congressional Democrats calling for him to go. State Sen. Mike Gianaris told NBC New York that the entire Democratic state Senate delegation wanted him out.
A sixth accuser’s claim this week of being groped by Cuomo last year in the governor’s mansion galvanized efforts to push him out. The complaint was referred to Albany police and prompted state lawmakers to open a rare impeachment inquiry.
“The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff,” congressional Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said in a statement.
But Cuomo brushed it off on Friday as politicking and suggested that his accusers may have nefarious motives.
“I did not do what has been alleged, period,” he said. “I won’t speculate about people’s possible motives but I can tell you as a former attorney general who’s gone through this situation many times, there are often many motivations for making an allegation and that is why you need to know the facts before you make the decision.”
Cuomo dodged a question about whether he had consensual, romantic relationships with any of his accusers and gave an odd response when asked if he had completed New York’s mandatory workplace sexual harassment training. “The short answer is yes,” he said.
He said he would not resign while an investigation by the New York attorney general’s office into the allegations is underway.
“I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people,” he said.
Cuomo, the son of a former New York governor and who coasted into the role of attorney general in 2006, then added, “Part of this is that I’m not part of the political club and, you know what, I’m proud of it.”
According to the Times Union, which published the sixth harassment allegation, the female aide says she was alone with Cuomo and helping him fix an issue with his phone when he put his hand under her blouse.
In a statement to the newspaper, Cuomo called the allegation “gut-wrenching” but said, “I have never done anything like this.”
Since Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president who worked in Cuomo’s administration for years, wrote a Medium post alleging Cuomo tried to kiss her at work, a steady stream of women have come forward to detail unwanted advances and inappropriate behavior by Cuomo.
One press aide described an uncomfortably long hug in a hotel room, another said he frequently put his hands on her body and made inappropriate remarks when she was working as a statehouse reporter.
More than 35 people who worked in his executive chamber told The New York Times on Friday that it was a chaotic, toxic workplace, especially for young women. In another damaging expose published by New York magazine on Friday, former staffers described a deeply uncomfortable work environment, where some young women were hired by Cuomo after he’d met them for just a couple of minutes.
“I never grabbed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone, and I never would,” Cuomo said Friday.