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Cuomo resigns, will leave office in two weeks

Andrew Cuomo
Don Pollard
Office of the Governor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a COVID-19 briefing in New York City on May 10, 2021.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that he is resigning from office, effective Aug. 24, saying that he did not want to face weeks and months of political and legal fighting over multiple scandals including the sexual harassment of 11 women.

Cuomo, facing nearly certain impeachment by the state Assembly, after a report by the state’s Attorney General found he broke state and federal laws, by sexually harassing 11 women, said he will leave office after a two-week transition.

“Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now, is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,” Cuomo said. “And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

The governor also apologized to the 11 women in the report, saying that believes now that he truly offended them and that he is deeply sorry. Cuomo added he knows now that he crossed the line, but said he did understand what that line was, blaming cultural and generational differences.

“I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints,” Cuomo said. “You taught me and you taught others an important lesson. Personal boundaries must be expanded, and must be protected. I accept full responsibility.”

The governor continued to deny that he sexually harassed anyone, calling the Attorney General’s report “false."

The announcement comes one day after the Assembly set out a schedule to move toward articles of impeachment, and two days after his top aide Melissa DeRosa also resigned, saying the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.

The governor also for the first time addressed the report’s conclusion that he sexually harassed a state trooper on his security detail by inappropriately touching her on at least two occasions in a way that she said “violated” her personal space. The governor said he often affectionately touches troopers, both male and female with pats on the back and other gestures.

“It’s my way of saying ‘I see you, I appreciate you’,” he said.

Cuomo's exit does not mean that his political and potential legal troubles are over. The Albany County Sheriff is investigating allegations that he sexually assaulted staffer Brittany Commisso, and at least four other DA’s are also looking at potential charges.

He also faces investigations into a $5 million dollar book deal, where it’s alleged that he used staff to help him write and edit the memoir. And there’s an ongoing federal investigation into his handling of nursing home policies during the COVID-10 pandemic.

Cuomo’s exit means the state will have its first woman governor. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native and former congresswoman, takes over as chief executive of the state Aug. 24.

"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."

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.