Cuomo says he won’t resign following sexual-harassment allegations, insists he ‘never touched anyone inappropriately’

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Wednesday said he would not resign.
  • Cuomo apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”
  • Despite allegations, Cuomo said he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York on Wednesday said he was “embarrassed” and “ashamed” over the way he behaved with women who recently came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable, and I truly and deeply apologize for it,” Cuomo said.

“And frankly, I am embarrassed by it. And that’s not easy to say, but that’s the truth,” the governor added.

When asked if he would resign, Cuomo talked about the looming budget deadline of April 1 and said there was much at stake for New Yorkers. Another reporter asked him specifically if he was saying he wouldn’t resign, and Cuomo said yes. 

“I apologized several days ago. I apologized today,” Cuomo said. “I will apologize tomorrow. I will apologize the day after. And I want New Yorkers to understand, because the facts will come out in the attorney general’s review, but I want them to understand the emotion.”

More Democrats in the state Legislature have called on Cuomo to resign in recent days, and several lawmakers from Cuomo’s party told Insider on Wednesday that they were open to impeaching him if he didn’t resign.

New York’s impeachment process closely mirrors that of the US Congress, though the Empire State has only once impeached a governor, with former Gov. William Sulzer impeached and removed from office in 1913.

While two Cuomo accusers said he touched them inappropriately and without their consent – including by trying to kiss them on the lips – the governor said he “never touched anyone inappropriately.”

The governor also said kissing people was his “customary way of greeting” and one that he extended to both men and women.

“You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people – men, women – it is my customary way of greeting,” Cuomo said when asked about a photo of him holding one of the accuser’s faces at a wedding.

—Jodi Kantor (@jodikantor) March 2, 2021

—Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 3, 2021

“By the way, it was my father’s way of greeting people,” Cuomo added. “You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable. You want to reach out to them. I kiss and hug legislators.”

Many of the lawmakers who have been calling on Cuomo to resign have cited instances of bullying and intimidation, with many of the accounts from legislators coming after Assemblyman Ron Kim went public with an account of a threatening phone call he said he received while giving his child a bath.

At several points, Cuomo reiterated that New Yorkers should wait until New York Attorney General Letitia James releases the results of her independent investigation of the allegations. The investigation will be conducted by an outside law firm, and James will have subpoena power.

“Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion,” Cuomo said.

The three-term governor appeared to get emotional at times during the latter stages of the press conference when addressing the allegations against him.

Cuomo also prefaced his remarks by saying he was advised by counsel not to speak about the allegations amid the investigation, on which he will be given weekly briefings, in accordance with New York state law.

“Now the lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review. … But I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this,” the governor said.

“There’s no ‘but,'” Cuomo later added. “It’s, ‘I’m sorry.'”