Wednesday, August 11, 2021

More Cuomo

Lots more.

Here, "In Resignation Speech, Cuomo Makes a Last Play to Preserve His Legacy."

And, "Cuomo Resigns Amid Scandals, Ending Decade-Long Run in Disgrace":

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said on Tuesday that he would resign from office, succumbing to a ballooning sexual harassment scandal in an astonishing reversal of fortune for one of the nation’s best-known leaders.

Mr. Cuomo said his resignation would take effect in 14 days. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be sworn in to replace him, becoming the first woman in history to occupy New York State’s top office.

“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Mr. Cuomo said in remarks streamed from his office in Midtown Manhattan. “And therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”

Mr. Cuomo’s dramatic fall was shocking in its velocity and vertical drop: A year ago, the governor was being hailed as a national hero for his steady leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The resignation of Mr. Cuomo, 63, a three-term Democrat, came a week after a report from the New York State attorney general concluded that the governor sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, including current and former government workers, by engaging in unwanted touching and making inappropriate comments. The 165-page report also found that Mr. Cuomo and his aides unlawfully retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public and fostered a toxic work environment.

The report’s findings put increased pressure on Mr. Cuomo to resign, with even President Biden, a longtime friend, advising him to do so. It spurred the State Assembly — Mr. Cuomo’s last political bulwark in an Albany increasingly arrayed against him — to take steps toward impeachment. And it left Mr. Cuomo with few, if any, allies to fight on with him.

The fallout from the report was swifter than even those closest to Mr. Cuomo expected. He quickly became isolated and grew more so by the day. His top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned Sunday. On Monday, the speaker of the State Assembly, Carl E. Heastie, made clear that there would be no “deal” to allow Mr. Cuomo to avoid an impeachment that appeared increasingly inevitable.

In the end, Mr. Cuomo followed through on the advice his top advisers and onetime allies had been offering: leave office voluntarily.

By stepping down, Mr. Cuomo dampened talk of impeachment in the State Assembly, which is dominated by Democrats, and left open the possibility, however remote, for a political revival.

In a 21-minute speech that was by turns contrite and defiant, Mr. Cuomo decried the effort to remove him and acknowledged that his initial instinct had been “to fight through this controversy, because I truly believe it is politically motivated.”

“This situation and moment are not about the facts,” he said. “It’s not about the truth. It’s not about thoughtful analysis. It’s not about how do we make the system better. This is about politics. And our political system today is too often driven by the extremes.”

The governor said he took “full responsibility” for his actions as he denied ever touching anyone inappropriately. He sought to frame the allegations from 11 women as stemming from generational differences and even thanked them for coming forward.

“In my mind, I have never crossed the line with anyone,” Mr. Cuomo said. “But I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn.”

At one point, he addressed his three daughters directly to let them know that “I never did and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman.”

“Your dad made mistakes,” he said to a room filled with staff members, some of them teary-eyed, most caught by surprise. “And he apologized. And he learned from it. And that’s what life is all about.”

His speech was prefaced by a 45-minute presentation from his personal lawyer, Rita Glavin, who blamed the media for creating a frenzied environment. She sought to cast doubt on many of the women’s allegations and the level of seriousness of some of the others.

“This report got key facts wrong,” she said. “It omitted key evidence, and it failed to include witnesses whose testimony would not support the narrative that it was clear this report would weave from Day 1.”

It was a taste of the bare-knuckled counterattack that Mr. Cuomo had been eager to launch and was considering in the days after the report came out. Instead, he appeared to conclude, as many of his advisers already had, that no path existed for him to stay in office.

Mr. Cuomo still faces potential legal liability, particularly from the accusation that he groped an executive assistant, Brittany Commisso. She filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County sheriff’s office last week.

From the start, Mr. Cuomo’s tenure in office was a study in vivid contrasts, marked by a head-spinning scale of accomplishment — the passage of marriage equality, raising the minimum wage, the construction of bridges and train stations — and political scandals, such as his decision to shut down a panel investigating public corruption before its work was completed.

His demise stunned Albany, where Mr. Cuomo had governed with an outsize presence for more than a decade, wielding the State Capitol’s levers of power with deft and often brutal skill, both alienating allies and keeping them in check. Most politicians — Democrats and Republicans — welcomed Mr. Cuomo’s decision and offered Ms. Hochul their support. Few thanked Mr. Cuomo for his years of service. Some could barely contain their glee.

“It was past time for Andrew Cuomo to resign, and it’s for the good of all New York,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been repeatedly attacked and disparaged by Mr. Cuomo over the years.

Mr. Biden took a different tone, saying he respected the governor’s decision to resign and praising his accomplishments. “I thought he’s done a hell of a job,” he said, mentioning infrastructure, voter access and “a range of things.”

“That’s why it’s so sad,” Mr. Biden added.

As recently as February, it was largely assumed that Mr. Cuomo would coast to a fourth term next year — eclipsing the three terms served by his father, Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and matching the record of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller — perhaps positioning himself for even higher office.

But that notion was shredded by a steady drumbeat of sexual harassment allegations earlier this year, coupled with troubling reports about his administration’s efforts to obscure the true extent of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, an issue that has been the subject of a federal investigation.

The allegations led to a barrage of calls for his resignation in March from top Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer and most of the state’s congressional delegation. Under immense pressure, and in an effort to buy himself time, Mr. Cuomo authorized Letitia James, the state attorney general, to oversee an investigation, urging voters to wait for the facts before reaching a conclusion.

The Assembly also began a wide-ranging impeachment investigation earlier this year. That inquiry was looking not only at sexual harassment allegations, but also at other accusations involving Mr. Cuomo’s misuse of power, including the possible illegal use of state resources to write a book about leadership last year for which he received $5.1 million, as well as his handling of nursing homes.

The inquiry was unfolding slowly, but the attorney general’s report eroded what little support Mr. Cuomo had in the Assembly. Mr. Cuomo was left with two options: step down or risk becoming only the second New York governor to be impeached in state history.

The last elected New York State governor, Eliot Spitzer, also resigned, after it emerged in 2008 that he had been a client of a high-end prostitution ring.

Multiple claims of sexual harassment. Eleven women, including current and former members of his administration, have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. An independent inquiry, overseen by the New York State attorney general, corroborated their accounts. The report also found that he and aides retaliated against at least one woman who made her complaints public.

Nursing home Covid-19 controversy. The Cuomo administration is also under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, a scandal that deepened after a Times investigation found that aides rewrote a health department report to hide the real number.

Efforts to obscure the death toll. Interviews and unearthed documents revealed in April that aides repeatedly overruled state health officials in releasing the true nursing home death toll for months. Several senior health officials have resigned in response to the governor’s overall handling of the pandemic, including the vaccine rollout.

Will Cuomo still be impeached? The State Assembly opened an impeachment investigation in March. But after Mr. Cuomo announced his resignation, it was unclear whether the Assembly would move forward with its impeachment process. If Mr. Cuomo were impeached and convicted, he could be barred from holding state office again.

Looking to the future. Mr. Cuomo said on Tuesday that his resignation would take effect in 14 days, and that Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, would be sworn in to replace him. She will be the first woman in New York history to occupy the state’s top office.

In recent months, Mr. Cuomo had tried to steer attention away from the investigations and scandals that had battered his administration, seeking to counter his critics’ contention that he had lost the capacity to govern. His top advisers believed that the good will he had amassed during the pandemic would allow him to survive, despite the findings from the state attorney general’s investigation, which was being conducted by a team of outside lawyers...