U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have joined Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, citing the growing number of sexual misconduct allegations and his administration’s handling of data related to deaths from COVID-19.
"Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct," the joint statement reads. "Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign."
Their statements came Friday evening, several hours after a group delegates from the house of representatives—a mix of newly-elected progressives and long-serving members—demanded the same thing. The outcry from the federal lawmakers came one day after the State Assembly authorized an investigation by its own Judiciary Committee, paving the way for impeachment proceedings. It’s also the strongest signal yet that Cuomo may be forced out of office by his own party long before any investigations are complete.
One of the strongest statements was issued by Representative Jerry Nadler, head of the House Judiciary Committee, who led two impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“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 said in a statement tweeted out Friday morning.
Cuomo’s office hasn’t returned a request for comment on the mounting calls for him to step down, though he’d brushed off earlier calls for him to do so as “anti-democratic,” asking New Yorkers to wait for the results of Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation.
For nearly two weeks, only one Democrat from the congressional delegation had called for his ousting. Representative Kathleen Rice issued a statement on Twitter on March 1st, after The New York Times published the account of a woman who said the governor grabbed her face and asked to kiss her at a wedding.
Some Republicans weighed in as well but on Friday most of the other Democrats in the delegation made clear that they could not abide by Cuomo’s behavior with the expanding allegations against him, and demanded he step down.
Giving voice to the progressive wing of the state delegation, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman issued a joint statement demanding Cuomo’s ouster. In particular, they pointed to the latest allegation reported by the Albany Times Union, which took place late last year. A complaint related to that incident was sent to the Albany Police Department on Thursday.
“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. These allegations have all been consistent and highly-detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts.”
In addition to the six sexual misconduct, harassment and potential assault allegations, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman call out the governor and his office for deliberately obscuring the full number of nursing home residents who died from Covid-19.
“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” they said.
In addition to Rice, Nadler, Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman, the current list of Democratic House members calling for Cuomo’s resignation includes Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Grace Meng, Adrianno Espaillat, Nydia Velazquez, Ritchie Torres, Mondaire Jones, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney, Paul Tonko, Brian Higgins and Joseph Morelle.
Late Friday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic Caucus Chair, shared a statement saying that he supported the Attorney General's and Assembly's investigations, but did not call for Cuomo to resign. Instead, he said, "Under these extraordinary circumstances, the Governor must seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively lead the state. No one is above the law.”
Representative Richie Torres also issued a statement on Friday saying it "would be in the best interest of New York State" for Cuomo to resign.
Republicans in the state’s House delegation including Rep. Lee Zeldin, Nicole Malliotakis and Tom Reed have also demanded Cuomo step aside.
Besides Jeffries, the only other NY Congressional Democrats who have not explicitly called for Cuomo to resign are Representatives Greg Meeks and Tom Suozzi, who both issued statements that stopped just short of saying Cuomo should step down now.
UPDATE: On Sunday, March 14th, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to demand Cuomo's resignation, but said the governor needs to do some soul searching. “The governor should look inside his heart, he loves New York, to see if he can govern effectively,” Pelosi said on ABC's This Week.
This story has been updated to reflect new statements from Tom Suozzi, Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, and Hakeem Jeffries.