Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he feels “awful” and “embarrassed” about the multiple sexual harassment allegations against him — but insisted, “I’m not going to resign.”
Cuomo — who’s serving a third term that expires at the end of next year — vowed to remain in office despite mounting outrage from even his fellow Democrats.
“I wasn’t elected by politicians, I was elected by the people of the state of New York. I’m not going to resign,” he said.
“I work for the people of the state of New York. They elected me and I’m going to serve the people of the state of New York.”
During a video news conference from the Capitol in Albany, Cuomo insisted, “I never touched anyone inappropriately” and pledged to cooperate with an independent investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James.
Cuomo also said he was acting against legal advice to tell New Yorkers, “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”
“It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it,” he insisted as his voice choked up.
“I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it and that’s not easy to say – but that’s the truth.”
Cuomo, speaking at times as if this was another era — despite the recent scandal involving sexual harassment and elected officials like Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who was forced to resign his seat and the criticisms leveled against an overly handsy Joe Biden when he was campaigning for president last year — said there are “hundreds of pictures” that show him kissing both men and women, including members of the state Legislature.
“It is my usual and customary way of greeting,” Cuomo said. “However, what I also understand is, it doesn’t matter. … What matters is, if anybody was offended by it.”
Cuomo also vowed to adjust how he acts in the wake of the scandal.
“I understand sensitivities have changed, behaviors have changed, and I’m going to learn from it,” he vowed.
Cuomo’s remarks were the first he’s made in person since a spiraling sexual harassment scandal erupted last week, leading to calls for his resignation — despite his having agreed to an independent investigation by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The controversy was sparked by former aide Lindsey Boylan, 36, who accused Cuomo, 63, of kissing her “on the lips” without warning in his Manhattan office in 2018.
Boylan, now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president, also alleged in an online essay that Cuomo told her, “Let’s play strip poker,” during an October 2017 flight on his official state jet.
Boylan’s claims led another former Cuomo aide, Charlotte Bennett, 25, to allege in a report published Saturday that he asked her inappropriate personal questions, told her he was open to relationships with women in their 20s and left her feeling that he “wanted to sleep with me.”
And in a report on Monday, Anna Ruch, a 33-year-old former White House staffer under then-President Barack Obama, accused Cuomo of coming on to her, grabbing her face and kissing her after he officiated at the 2019 wedding of an administration aide, Gareth Rhodes, to another former Obama staffer, Alexa Kissinger.