New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing mounting pressure to resign, including from President Joe Biden, after an investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.
“I think he should resign,” Mr Biden told reporters on Tuesday, echoing the sentiments of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York’s US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, all Democrats.
State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat, said it was clear Mr Cuomo could no longer remain in office and that he would move to complete the assembly’s impeachment inquiry “as quickly as possible.”
The governor remained defiant, saying in a taped response to the findings that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances”.
The nearly five-month investigation, overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James and led by two outside lawyers, concluded that 11 women — in and out of state government — who said that Cuomo had touched them inappropriately, commented on their appearance or made suggestive comments about their sex lives were telling the truth.
Those accusers included an aide who said Mr Cuomo groped her breast at the governor’s mansion and a state trooper on his security detail, who said he ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back.
Anne Clark, who led the probe with former US Attorney Joon Kim, said the allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages.
“These interviews and pieces of evidence revealed a deeply disturbing yet clear picture: Gov Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of federal and state laws,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Many of the women said they feared retaliation if they reported the governor’s behaviour, investigators said.
On at least one occasion, the probe found, Mr Cuomo’s staff took action “intended to discredit and disparage” an accuser — Lindsey Boylan, the first former employee to publicly accuse him of wrongdoing — including leaking confidential personnel files and drafting a letter attacking her credibility.
The investigation’s findings, detailed in a 165-page public report, turn up the pressure on the 63-year-old governor, who just a year ago was widely hailed for his steady leadership during the darkest days of the Covid crisis, even writing a book about it.