The announcements add additional pressure not only on Cuomo — who has vigorously resisted calls for his resignation and brushed them off as political maneuvers by his rivals — but on the Biden White House, which has so far declined to call for the three-term Democratic heavyweight to step down, instead pointing to an ongoing investigation by the state’s attorney general into the harassment allegations. An aide told CNN the White House had no new comment on the matter early Friday evening.
“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct,” Schumer and Gillibrand said in a joint statement. “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”
On Friday, 16 members of New York’s 19-person Democratic House delegation said Cuomo must resign, arguing that the allegations have impeded his ability to effectively govern and serve the people of New York.
Addressing the allegations Friday, Cuomo said in a news conference to “let the review proceed. I’m not going to resign.”
A source familiar with the conversations that preceded Friday’s coordinated call by New York House Democrats said the group has been in touch as the allegations mounted, but only agreed to move forward together on Thursday. They decided to wait until Friday morning to go public so as not to step on President Joe Biden’s speech Thursday night.
Both the source familiar and a House Democrat told CNN that a major factor in why so many Democratic lawmakers called for the governor’s resignation Friday was a story in the Albany Times Union in which an accuser described recent, physical allegations against Cuomo.
CNN has not been able to confirm the details of the Albany Times Union story, and because the female aide involved in the incident has not been named, the allegations cannot be corroborated.
The two sources said that the report — combined with State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s announcement on Thursday that Democrats there would begin an impeachment investigation — seemed something of a tipping point.
Cuomo denied the Albany Times Union report last week, saying, “I have never done anything like this. The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the Attorney General’s report.”
The decision to go in, nearly all at the same time, was also an acknowledgment that when one made the call, it would up the pressure on all the rest.
They join Rep. Kathleen Rice, who earlier this month became the first out of the 19 Democrats in the New York House delegation to call for Cuomo to step down.
In separate statements Friday, fellow Democratic Reps. Grace Meng, Nydia Velázquez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Mondaire Jones, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney, Brian Higgins, Paul Tonko, Ritchie Torres and Joe Morelle also urged Cuomo to step down as governor.
Maloney, who also chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, argued that New Yorkers need a governor “laser-focused” on getting them through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The administration left out Covid-19 deaths of residents who had been transferred out of the facility or to hospitals, a statement from Attorney General Letitia James’ office said. While the report found that the overall number of deaths did not change, it led to a misrepresentation of the Covid-19 death toll in New York’s long-term care facilities.
Cuomo and his administration defended their decision, arguing that with both the Justice Department and New York state lawmakers asking questions, the federal inquiry became their priority. The governor denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.
Nadler said Friday that the allegations against Cuomo are “serious” and credible, and Cuomo is “guaranteed due process under law,” but the question of confidence in New York’s leader is one of “political judgment.”
Several of the Democrats on Friday said James’s investigation into Cuomo’s behavior should continue.
Lawmakers calling for Cuomo’s resignation have argued that his position is increasingly untenable as the state heads into a period of critical budget negotiations that will determine the state’s course as it seeks to revive its pandemic-leveled economy.
Mounting pressure on Democrats
Schumer had said on ABC’s “The View” Thursday that the allegations against Cuomo were “very troubling” and must be thoroughly investigated by the state attorney general, but he stopped short of saying Cuomo should leave office. Gillibrand on Wednesday condemned Cuomo’s behavior but refused to discuss with CNN why she viewed the allegations differently than the accusations Franken faced.
Not all House Democrats have called for Cuomo to step down.
And Reps. Tom Suozzi and Gregory Meeks said if Cuomo cannot continue to govern effectively, he should resign.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the White House had no updates when asked if Biden believes Cuomo should resign.
“The President believes that every woman who’s come forward … deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect and should be able to tell her story,” Psaki said, adding that Biden believes the independent investigation should move forward.
Cuomo rejects calls to resign
During his conference call later Friday, Cuomo made clear he would not be resigning from office despite the public pressure.
“I am not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people,” he said, insisting that “New Yorkers know me.”
He encouraged the public to let the state attorney general’s investigation play out and to “wait for the facts.”
“I am confident that when New Yorkers know the facts from the review, I am confident in the decision based on the facts,” he said. “But wait for the facts. An opinion without facts is irresponsible.”
He claimed that he has “not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period.”
“I never harassed anyone, I never abused anyone, I never assaulted anyone,” he said.
Cuomo added that he will avoid “distractions” and focus on his job.
This story has been updated with additional reporting on Sunday.
CNN’s Jake Tapper, Jeff Zeleny, Kristina Sgueglia, Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.