WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden called on New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down Tuesday after an official report said Cuomo sexually molested 11 women.
“He should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
When asked if Cuomo should be ousted if he refuses to step down, Biden said, “I understand that state lawmakers may decide to impeach, I don’t know.”
Shortly after Biden’s response, Democrat Carl Heastie, spokesman for the New York State House, announced that the chamber would try to quickly complete its impeachment proceedings against the governor.
In calling on Cuomo to resign, Biden joined almost every other major Democratic legislature in Albany and Washington. But from the top of the party leadership, Biden’s demand carries more weight than others.
Cuomo’s press office did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC on the president’s remarks.
The report, released Tuesday by Attorney General Letitia James, summarized a month-long investigation and concluded that Cuomo “sexually molested several women in violation of federal and state laws,” James told a news conference.
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A gloomy but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of these allegations later Tuesday, saying that other examples of his alleged wrongdoing had been misrepresented or misinterpreted.
The 165-page report, which includes interviews with 179 witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents, also stated that Cuomo’s office was steeped in fear and intimidation and was a hostile work environment for many employees.
The women Cuomo accused of molesting include members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a state trooper, the report said.
The wave of calls for Cuomo to step down Tuesday was a staggering fall from grace for a politician who made no secret of his national ambitions and was widely viewed as a potential Democratic 2024 presidential candidate should Biden choose not to run for re-election.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuomo maintained close relationships, first with the Trump administration and later with the Biden administration.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vice President Joseph Biden hug after lunch honoring the motorcyclists participating in the 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride in New York on Friday, September 11, 2015.
Bryan R. Smith | AP
The president’s response came four months after Biden said the governor should resign if an investigation confirms sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
Biden said Tuesday that he stood by his March testimony.
“I think he’s likely to be prosecuted as well,” Biden told ABC News in an interview that aired on March 16.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House message to Cuomo’s accuser is that all women who have had “this type of experience … deserve to be treated with respect and dignity”.
“I don’t know anyone could have watched [James’ press conference] this morning and didn’t find the allegations horrific – I know I definitely did, “said Psaki.
The results showed “a deeply disturbing but clear picture,” said James, describing Cuomo’s office as a “toxic place to work.”