New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he would resign, following calls for his resignation after an investigation by the New York state attorney general found he’d sexually harassed multiple female employees, violating federal and state law.
The decision heads off his almost certain impeachment and conviction in the state Legislature.
Seventy percent of New York voters said Cuomo should resign, according to CNN, citing a new poll released last Friday by Quinnipiac University. That number included 57% of registered Democrats, 76% of independents and 88% of Republicans. Among Democrats, the figure had risen 34 percentage points since Quinnipiac last asked the question in March.
Cuomo’s approval rating fell to an all-time low of 28%.
Nine women accused the governor of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments earlier this year, sparking an independent investigation in March. The resulting report, filed in August, painted a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” of Cuomo’s behavior, New York state Attorney General Letitia James (D) said.
The 63-year-old Democrat emphatically denied intentionally mistreating women and called the pressure for his ouster politically motivated. But he said that fighting back in this “too hot” political climate would subject the state to months of turmoil.
“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government, and therefore that is what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you,” Cuomo said in a televised address, at which he took no questions.
The third-term governor’s resignation, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the Legislature to remove him by impeachment and after nearly the entire Democratic establishment had turned against him, with President Joe Biden joining those calling on him to resign.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat, will serve the rest of his term when the resignation becomes effective in 14 days. She will become the first female governor of New York.