New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo admits he ‘made people uncomfortable’ but won’t resign
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he intends to stay in office amid sexual harassment allegations that have weakened his support and led to calls for his resignation, even among some fellow Democrats.
The governor, speaking in his first public appearance since three women accused him of inappropriate touching and offensive language, apologized and said he “had learned an important lesson” about his behavior towards the women.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people uncomfortable,” Cuomo said at a press conference Wednesday. “It was unintentional, and I really and deeply apologize for it.”
Cuomo said he would “fully cooperate” with the state attorney general’s investigation into the sexual harassment allegations.
Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, is in the process of selecting an outside law firm to investigate the allegations and produce a report that will be made public.
Asked about calls for him to step down, the third-term governor said, “I was not elected by politicians. I was elected by the people of New York State. I am not going to be elected by politicians. not resign. “
Cuomo addressed the allegations at a press conference that otherwise focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the kind of briefings that made him a staple daily on television and a national star among democrats.
WATCH | Cuomo’s full statement on the sexual harassment allegations against him:
Trying to be “ playful ”
Two of the women who accused Cuomo were working in his administration. The other was a guest at a wedding he performed.
Former aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, said Cuomo asked her about her sex life and asked if she would be open to a relationship with an older man. Bennett rejected Cuomo’s attempted apology, in which he said he tried to be “playful” and his jokes were misinterpreted as flirtation.
Another former assistant, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo commented inappropriately on her appearance, kissed her without her consent at the end of a meeting and once suggested playing strip poker aboard her owned jet. in the state. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s claims.
And another woman, Anna Ruch, told the New York Times that Cuomo put his hands to her face and asked if he could kiss her at a wedding in September 2019.
Refers to his behavior as “ gregarious ”
Cuomo said he inherited his gregarious way of greeting people from his father, the late former Governor Mario Cuomo, and designed it as a way to greet people and bring them to life. easy. He said he realizes now, “It doesn’t matter what my intention is. What matters is if anyone has been offended by it.”
Speaking of the allegations, Cuomo first said he apologized to “people” who were uncomfortable with his conduct, but did not elaborate on continuing which of the women he was referring to. .
At one point he said he was apologizing to “the young woman who worked here who said I made her uncomfortable in the workplace”, although that description may apply. to both Boylan and Bennett.
Asked what he was saying to New Yorkers, Cuomo said, “I’m embarrassed by what happened … I’m embarrassed that someone in my administration felt this. I’m embarrassed and hurt, and I apologize that someone interacted with me felt this way. “
“I didn’t know at the time that I was making her uncomfortable,” said the governor, who touted a law requiring all workers in New York to receive training on sexual harassment.
“I never wanted to do it, but it doesn’t matter. If a person feels uncomfortable, if a person feels pain, if a person is offended, I feel very bad about it, and I apologize for it. There is no “but “; it’s, ‘I’m sorry.’ “