New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced his resignation. The resignation take effect in 14 days. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over.
In a livestream from his Manhattan office, Cuomo said, “This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what we’re going to have. That is how the political wind is blowing.
“I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside.”
Last week, state Attorney General Letitia James released a detailed report that found the allegations of harassment of employees’ against Cuomo to be credible. Her civil investigation prompted calls for the governor to step down from Senators Charles Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand, New York’s Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and President Joe Biden.
Cuomo brushed aside earlier calls for resignations saying that he “was elected by the people” and that he would not bow to “playing politics.”
After being interviewed by the attorneys charged with investigating accusations, he questioned the probe’s neutrality.
“I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” the Governor said. “Is this all happening in a political system? Yes, that is undeniable.”
He also re-iterated that once he can tell his side of the story, that the public will be “shocked” at what he portrayed as a misrepresentation of the facts as they occurred.
Cuomo’s suspicions of political motivations at play are not unfounded.
While he has consistently slid to the left along with New York’s Democratic Party, Cuomo who made his reputation as a Clinton-style centrist has never been trusted by sworn ideological progressives.
While there is no way of knowing whether it came to bear on the report’s methods or conclusions, Mrs. James, someone seen as a progressive hero, could well be a candidate to eventually take over the Governor’s seat.
The Attorney General, whose report indeed paints a very grim picture of the Governor’s conduct, yet it presents little corroboration of the accusers’ stories and seems to base its conclusions largely on their testimony.
Almost six months later, though, it was a hard case for him to make as a recent poll showed that 70% of New Yorkers felt he should leave office, up from 35% when accusations first began to mount against him.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced, following James’ report, that the Assembly Judiciary Committee would open impeachment into the governor.
The Governor has no lack of other “charges” against him. The most grievous and the one that has been empirically demonstrated by an already completed independent report is his office’s underreporting of COVID nursing home deaths in an apparent effort to avoid federal scrutiny of the Governor’s ordering COVID patients to these high risk facilities. Another which should be easier to prove is whether the Governor used state resources to complete his book on his “heroic” tale of pandemic management for which he is expected to personally make $5 million.
In a statement, Hochul said, “I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers. As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”
Hochul, 62, the state’s nominative second in command who is next in the line of succession for the governor’s mansion. A long-time state political operative, she is well known in Democratic Party power circles, but till recently carried little name recognition outside of them. A once moderate to conservative Democrat from near Buffalo, Hochul shifted to more liberal positions when she joined the Cuomo ticket. Since then, she has not been a close association with the Governor and was not part of his very public pandemic management efforts.
Maury Litwack, the executive director of Teach Coalition, praising Hochul in a statement to Hamodia: “I have know Kathy Hochul for many years. She’s a dedicated public servant who has been a friend to the community. She has spoken out time and again against antisemitism and she has been vocal on the critical role Yeshivas play in the state. In the last 100 days we’ve been proud to bring incoming Governor Hochul to visit both Yeshiva Flatbush and Darchei Torah.”
In a statement, Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, Director of New York Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America, said “Agudath Israel has had the privilege of working closely with Incoming Governor Hochul. She has addressed our Albany Day and delivered the keynote address at our 2018 Yeshiva Summit. Particularly gratifying were her remarks at the Summit that she believes in “protecting our right to have your children educated where you choose.”