New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly told a New York State Senator that she would have to find a way to impeach him if she wanted him out of office over sexual harassment allegations, as he has no plans to resign.
The Associated Press reports that Cuomo spoke to New York’s Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a phone call before a blockbuster conference with reporters Sunday and dared Stewart-Cousins to begin impeachment proceedings against him in the New York legislature.
“In a brief phone conversation Sunday prior to the press conference, Cuomo told Stewart-Cousins he wouldn’t quit and they would have to impeach him if they wanted him out of office, according to a person who was briefed by someone on the call. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the call was intended to be private,” the AP noted.
“I’m not going to be distracted because there is too much to do for the people,” Cuomo reportedly said, adding that the next six months would be crucial in the battle against COVID-19 and that New York would need a strong governor to lead them through the remainder of the pandemic.
Stewart-Cousins was the first New York legislator to openly call for Cuomo to resign, calling on the governor to step down on Saturday.
“It is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York,” she said in a statement.
“Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” Stewart-Cousins added. “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health, and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Stewart-Cousins’ statement followed a pair of new sexual harassment accusations aimed at the governor, which emerged late Friday and early Saturday. Five women have now come forward to claim that Cuomo acted inappropriately towards them, making them feel uncomfortable.
On Sunday, in a call with reporters, Cuomo flatly refused to step down, denying the accusations against him and demanding due process. He accused Stewart-Cousins and his other critics in the legislature of overriding the will of the people who put him in office.
“There is no way I resign,” Cuomo said on the call “They don’t override the people’s will, they don’t get to override elections. I was elected by the people of New York state. I wasn’t elected by politicians.”
Cuomo may, in fact, face an impeachment probe. Democratic lawmakers issued a call to impeach the governor in a public letter released last week.
“The accounts of sexual harassment from the women who have courageously come forward confirm what many in Albany have known for years: that Governor Cuomo uses his power to belittle, bully and harass his employees and colleagues,” they said. ‘The accounts add to recent revelations of gross misconduct. It is time for the legislature to demand accountability. Impeachment proceedings are the appropriate avenue for us to pursue as legislators to hold the Governor accountable for his many abuses of power and remove him from office.”
The letter does not reference Cuomo’s other scandal: accusations that his office deliberately covered up a death count resulting from the governor’s order to send recovering coronavirus patients into nursing and other adult care facilities, even if they still tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The policy, which was rescinded just two months after it was issued, may have led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, particularly among vulnerable communities.
Reports from Cuomo’s administration indicate that the governor and his aides deliberately undercounted the number of nursing home deaths in the state, either to evade a federal inquiry or to polish the governor’s reputation before he published a book on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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