Queens lawmakers call for Cuomo’s resignation in wake of AG’s report on sexual harassment claims

Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Queens lawmakers and leaders are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign or face impeachment after New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Tuesday, Aug. 3, an independent investigation that found the governor sexually harassed multiple women, violating federal and New York state law. 

The attorney general’s 168-page bombshell report, released during her press conference Tuesday morning, determined that Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed 11 women, nine of whom are current and former state employees — and one of whom is a New York state trooper. 

According to the report, the governor engaged in “unwanted groping, kissing, hugging, and making inappropriate comments,” creating a hostile work environment for women. 

In a statement, James said she is grateful to all of the women who came forward to tell their stories in  “painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth.” 

“No man — no matter how powerful — can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period,” James said. 

Following the report, several Queens lawmakers took to Twitter calling for the governor, who is a Democrat and is serving his third term in office, to be removed.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said Cuomo should resign, “but if he doesn’t, he must be impeached.” 

State Assemblyman Ron Kim, who was embroiled in a public feud with the governor earlier this year over his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Cuomo is “wholly unfit to serve and must be removed from office immediately.” 

“Today’s report from Attorney General Letitia James confirms what we have long suspected: Governor Cuomo used his office to sexually assault, harass, intimidate and humiliate his employees,” Kim said in a statement. 

Kim then acknowledged the women who came forward to speak out against the governor’s alleged inappropriate misconduct. 

“Today is about the brave women. We have much more work ahead but today brave women are heard loud and clear,” Kim said.  

In response to the AG’s report, Arlenis Morel, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, said they stand with survivors and women. 

“Governor Cuomo abused his power and violated federal and state laws. He harassed and accosted women. He created a hostile workplace and retaliated against staff. With this investigation now concluded, Governor Cuomo must resign immediately. If he does not, the Assembly must swiftly move to impeach him,” Morel said. 

In March, James’ office began an official investigation into the reports of alleged misconduct by Cuomo, who had received calls from Democratic lawmakers to resign. He had rebuffed. 

In a video statement released Tuesday, Cuomo again denied any wrongdoing, and said he was issuing his own report to “now share the truth.”

“The facts are much different than has been portrayed,” Cuomo said. “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”

The governor suggested the report was tainted by “bias” and portrayed himself as a protector of women. 

“For those who are using this moment to score political points, or seek publicity or personal gain, I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect,” Cuomo said. 

Cuomo, who was praised for his leadership in navigating the COVID-19 crisis, fell from grace in recent months when the attorney general’s office released a report revealing that his administration withheld data about nursing home deaths in New York. 

Cuomo has faced scrutiny over reports that he prioritized testing for his family in the early days of the pandemic. 

The governor was also criticized for receiving $5.1 million for his book about dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to James, the investigation is still ongoing on whether state funds went toward Cuomo’s book deal. 

Additionally, James’ report into Cuomo’s sexual harassment allegations is separate from an independent impeachment report launched by the New York Assembly earlier this year. 

In a statement, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said James’ report has been forwarded to members of the Judiciary Committee, as well as members of the Assembly.

“We will now undertake an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits with our Assembly counsels as well as the legal firm we have retained to assist us,” Heastie said. “We will have more to say in the very near future.” 

Heastie added that the conduct outlined by the governor in the report indicates “someone who is not fit for office.”

“The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all of the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience,” Heastie said. 

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said the governor’s actions are clearly grounds for impeachment. 

“No one should be subjected to sexual harassment or a toxic work environment, especially not at the highest levels of our state’s government. In his actions, the governor has undermined New York’s strong sexual harassment laws. We must ensure everyone can do the people’s work free of harassment and hostility,” Rozic said.

After reading the report, Assemblyman Brian Barnwell said he will “support impeachment proceedings.” 

Assembly members Jessica González-Rojas and Khaleel Anderson also released statements in support of Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment.

Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani, along with several other DSA members in the Legislature, called on the body to “immediately reconvene and impeach.”

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris said Cuomo “lacks the integrity required to be the leader of our state and can no longer serve as New York’s governor.” 

“He must heed the calls of so many New York leaders and resign,” Gianaris said. 

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky also called for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment. 

“It is clear that there is a pattern of unacceptable and troubling behavior,” Stavisky said. “I want to thank the brave women who had the strength to come forward and tell their stories.”

State Senator Jessica Ramos, one of the legislators who previously called for Cuomo’s resignation, said New Yorkers “deserve better.”

“No one should be subjected to this kind of harassment. And certainly not by someone who is charged with leading our state [and] upholding the labor laws meant to rid our workplaces of this abhorrent, misogynistic behavior,” Ramos wrote on Twitter.

Congress members Tom Suozzi and Hakeem Jeffries said the attorney general’s office conducted a “complete, thorough and professional investigation” of the disturbing allegations against Cuomo. 

“The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York state and resign,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. 

Meanwhile, Democratic nominee for New York City mayor Eric Adams said James’ investigation yielded disturbing conclusions about the conduct of Cuomo.

It is now the duty of the New York State Assembly to take swift and appropriate action and move forward with impeachment proceedings if the governor will not resign,” Adams said.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said he “applauds” James for overseeing the investigation “with the utmost integrity and respect.”

“Today I am especially thinking of all the survivors who are in pain due to the governor’s behavior. I hope they feel justice was partially served today, and it is now up to the state Legislature to complete,” Richards said. “I hope the Assembly swiftly moves forward with impeachment proceedings if Governor Cuomo does not resign. New Yorkers deserve better, and the governor should resign.”