Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he will step down as New York’s chief executive amid the ongoing sexual harassment scandal against him.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will succeed Cuomo as the Empire State’s 57th governor — and the first woman ever to hold the office. Cuomo said she will take office in 14 days, on August 24, following a transition.
The three-term governor denied criminal wrongdoing a week after Attorney General Letitia James issued a report of an independent investigation into allegations made by 11 women that the governor sexually harassed them. He had been facing possible impeachment in the Assembly based on the charges in the report, as well as other unrelated accusations of wrongdoing.
Even so, Cuomo said he did not want the scandal to distract from the important work that lies ahead for New York.
His decision came a day after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stated that Cuomo had lost the confidence of the majority of the house’s members.
“This is about politics and our political system is too often driven by political extremes,” Cuomo said in a his Aug. 10 televised speech.
“This situation by its current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy, that is what we’re going to have. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars,” he added. “This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today, it really needs to perform. It’s a matter of life and death, government operations, and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.”
Cuomo also apologized to the 11 women who accused him of sexually harassing them, and insisted that his actions were not made out of malice.
Cuomo’s remarks came on the heels of another presentation by his attorney, Rita Glavin, who sought to dispel a number of the allegations made in the independent report — blaming the investigators for not hearing the governor’s side, and accusing the media of convicting Cuomo in the court of public opinion.
In a statement, incoming Governor-designate Hochul said Cuomo made the right decision for the state, and that she will be ready to take office in two weeks.
“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “As someone who has served at all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as New York State’s 57th Governor.”