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A crowd of maskless young men gathered in Union Square last night to celebrate the downfall of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned on Tuesday over a raft of sexual harassment allegations.
The ‘Bye, Bye Cuomo’ party was attended by hundreds and hosted by Instagram sensation Sidetalk NYC, known for its interviews with outspoken New Yorkers on a range of issues from marijuana to Covid-19.
Last night, the raucous crowd reveled in the 63-year-old former Governor’s fall from grace, cheering and whistling as brutal put-downs about his alleged groping of breasts and buttocks were hollered into a microphone.
Earlier, Cuomo announced his exit at a disastrous press conference – a dramatic turn for the lawmaker who last year found himself tipped for the White House for his response to the pandemic.
Cuomo defiantly denied intentionally mistreating women, blaming his behavior on the ‘redrawn lines’ of social decency and claiming that the pressure for his ouster was politically motivated.
But he admitted that fighting back in this ‘too hot’ political climate would subject the state to months of turmoil.
‘The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing,’ Cuomo said in the televised address.
The ‘Bye, Bye Cuomo’ party was attended by hundreds and hosted by Instagram sensation Sidetalk NYC, known for their interviews with outspoken New Yorkers on a range of issues from marijuana to Covid-19 (pictured: Sidetalk NYC host Trent Simonian interviews someone as young men standing around go wild and film the antics on their phones)
Sidetalk NYC host Trent Simonian gestures as he interviews people about Cuomo in front of a crowd of revelers in Union Square, Manhattan
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo walks with his daughter Michaela, 23, to a helicopter at the heliport in Lower Manhattan shortly after announcing his resignation on Tuesday, a week after being dubbed a serial sexual harasser by Attorney General Letitia James
A young man is asked his view on the Governor (left) and another showed up in a Moses outfit
A young man is interviewed about Cuomo’s fall from grace in Union Square last night
A wide-eyed interviewee grips the crowd assembled for the party on the plaza last night
PANDEMIC HERO TO ZERO – TIMELINE OF CUOMO’S RISE AND FALL
2006: Cuomo is elected AG of New York
2010: Cuomo is elected Governor of New York
2014: Re-elected, with Kathy Hochul as Lt. Gov
2018: Re-elected, defeating actress Cynthia Nixon
March 2020: Cuomo becomes a pandemic hero with his daily press briefings on how New York, under his guidance, was responding to the crisis.
He routinely sparred with then President Donald Trump and he basked in people calling him the people’s real president in the time of crisis
March 25: At the height of New York’s COVID crisis, Cuomo signs a directive telling nursing homes they have to accept COVID-19 patients
May 10: Cuomo rescinds the nursing home directive amid intense criticism of it as COVID deaths climb
October 2020: Cuomo releases his book, Lessons in Leadership, about the pandemic
November 2020: Cuomo is awarded an Emmy for his daily COVID briefings
December 2020: Lindsey Boylan tweets that Cuomo abused her when she worked for him
February 2021: The AP releases a damning report into how Cuomo’s administration counted nursing home deaths as hospital deaths which made the numbers smaller
March 2021: Letitia James launches sexual harassment investigation into Cuomo
Assembly Judiciary Committee opens impeachment investigation
August 3: AG releases her report finding Cuomo did sexually harass 11 women
Cuomo issues statement insisting he is innocent but refuses to stand down
August 10: Cuomo resigns, citing the good of the people as his reason for it
The third-term governor’s resignation, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the legislature to remove him by impeachment and after nearly the entire Democratic establishment had turned against him, with President Joe Biden joining those calling on him to resign.
The decision came a week after New York’s attorney general released the results of an investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Investigators said he subjected women to unwanted kisses; groped their breasts or buttocks or otherwise touched them inappropriately; made insinuating remarks about their looks and their sex lives; and created a work environment ‘rife with fear and intimidation.’
At the same time, Cuomo was under fire over the discovery that his administration had concealed thousands of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home patients.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a 62-year-old Democrat and former member of Congress from the Buffalo area, will become the state’s 57th governor and the first woman to hold the post.
She said Cuomo’s resignation was ‘the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers.’
The #MeToo-era scandal cut short not just a career but a dynasty: Cuomo’s father, Mario Cuomo, was governor in the 1980s and ’90s, and the younger Cuomo was often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate.
Even as the scandal mushroomed, he was planning to run for reelection in 2022.
Republicans exulted in Cuomo’s departure but still urged impeachment, which could prevent him from running for office again.
‘This resignation is simply an attempt to avoid real accountability,’ state GOP chair Nick Langworthy said.
At the White House, Biden said: ‘I respect the governor’s decision.’
At the same time, he said Cuomo had ‘done a helluva job’ on infrastructure and voting rights, and ‘that’s why it’s so sad.’
‘From the beginning, I simply asked that the governor stop his abusive behavior,’ Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to accuse Cuomo publicly of harassment, tweeted Tuesday.
‘It became abundantly clear he was unable to do that, instead attacking and blaming victims until the end.’
Cuomo still faces the possibility of criminal charges, with a number of prosecutors around the state continuing to investigate him.
At least one of his accusers has filed a criminal complaint.
The governor prefaced his resignation with a 45-minute defense from his lawyer and his own insistence that his behavior – while sometimes insensitive, off-putting or ‘too familiar’ – had been used against him as a weapon in a political environment where ‘rashness has replaced reasonableness.’
A massive crowd is seen cheering as someone speaks into a microphone to skewer Cuomo
A young man speaks into a microphone at the raucous event in Union Square last night
Young men crowd around the proceedings, many holding their phones up to the film the social media sensation at work
A young man is seen with a face mask under his chin, while most appear to have foregone any social distancing concerns
The crowd started to gather in the Manhattan park from around 8.30pm on Tuesday night
‘I am a fighter, and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful,’ he said, but added that he didn’t want ‘distractions’ to consume the state government as it grapples with the pandemic and other problems.
The string of accusations began in news reports last December and went on for months.
Cuomo called some of the allegations fabricated and denied he touched anyone inappropriately.
But he acknowledged making some aides uncomfortable with comments he said he intended as playful, and he apologized for some of his behavior.
He portrayed some encounters as misunderstandings attributable to ‘generational or cultural’ differences, invoking his upbringing in an affectionate Italian American family.
The attorney general’s investigation backed up the women’s accounts and added lurid new ones, turning up the pressure on Cuomo.
Investigators also said that the governor’s staff retaliated against Boylan by leaking confidential personnel files about her.
As governor, Cuomo proclaimed himself a ‘progressive Democrat’ who gets things done: Since taking office in 2011, he helped push through legislation that legalized gay marriage, began lifting the minimum wage to $15 and expanded paid family leave benefits.
He also backed big infrastructure projects, including a new Hudson River bridge that he named after his father.
At the same time he was engaging in the behavior that got him into trouble, he was publicly championing the #MeToo movement and surrounding himself with women’s rights activists.
He signed into law sweeping new protections against sexual harassment and lengthened the statute of limitations in rape cases.
His resignation is ‘a testament to the growing power of women’s voices since the beginning of the #MeToo movement,’ said Debra Katz, a lawyer for one of his accusers, Charlotte Bennett.
Michaela placed her hand on her father’s back as they made their way to the helicopter, moments after his resignation
Stephanie Benton, another of Cuomo’s aides, was with him on Tuesday too. She is shown in red, with Michaela (far left), Melissa DeRosa (far right) and Mariah, one of his other daughters (center in black floral dress)
Cuomo was joined by his daughters Michaela, 23, and Mariah, 26 (center). His other 26-year-old daughter Cara was not there. Melissa DeRosa, his fiercest aide who quit on Sunday, was also with him (far left)
Cuomo’s national popularity soared during the harrowing spring of 2020, when New York was the lethal epicenter of the nation´s coronavirus outbreak and he became President Donald Trump’s chief antagonist in the minds of many Americans.
Cuomo’s tough-minded but compassionate rhetoric made for riveting television well beyond New York, as he sternly warned people to stay home and wear masks while Trump often brushed off the virus.
Cuomo’s briefings won an international Emmy Award, and he went on to write a book on leadership in a crisis.
But those accomplishments were soon tainted when it emerged that the state’s official count of nursing home deaths had excluded many victims who had been transferred to hospitals before they succumbed.
A Cuomo aide acknowledged the administration feared the true numbers would be ‘used against us’ by the Trump White House.
Also, Cuomo’s administration was fiercely criticized for forcing nursing homes to accept patients recovering from the virus.
The US Justice Department is investigating the state’s handling of data on nursing home deaths.
In addition, the state attorney general is looking into whether Cuomo broke the law in using members of his staff to help write and promote his book, from which he stood to make more than $5million.
The governor also faced increasing criticism over his rough and sometimes vindictive treatment of fellow politicians and his own staff, with former aides telling stories of a brutal work environment.
Cuomo has been divorced since 2005 from author and activist Kerry Kennedy, a member of the Kennedy family, and was romantically involved up until 2019 with TV lifestyle personality Sandra Lee.
He has three adult daughters and appealed to them as he stepped down.
Cuomo spoke from New York City. He has been hiding out in Albany since last week, when the Attorney General’s report was released
Cuomo addressed his three adult daughters, calling them his ‘jewels’. ‘Your dad made mistakes and he apologized and he learned from it. That’s what life is all about,’ he said. Cara, right, was not with him
‘I want them to know, from the bottom of my heart: I never did, and I never would, intentionally disrespect a woman or treat any woman differently than I would want them treated,’ he said.
‘Your dad made mistakes. And he apologized. And he learned from it. And that’s what life is all about.’
Cuomo got his start in politics as his father’s hard-nosed and often ruthless campaign manager, then was New York attorney general and US housing secretary under President Bill Clinton before getting elected governor in 2010.
New York has seen a string of high-level politicians brought down in disgrace in recent years.
Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in 2008 in a prostitution scandal.
House Rep. Anthony Weiner went to prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stepped down in 2018 after four women accused him of abuse.
And the Legislature’s top two leaders were convicted of corruption.
ANDREW CUOMO’S RESIGNATION SPEECH IN FULL
Good morning. Let me begin by thanking Rita Glavin for that powerful presentation. I’d like to address several issues today. First, I’ve always started by telling New Yorkers the facts before my opinion. So let’s start New York tough with the truth. The attorney general did a report on complaints made against me by certain women for my conduct. The report said I sexually harassed 11 women. That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to. The reaction was outrage. It should have been. However, it was also false. My lawyers, as you just heard from Rita Glavin, have reviewed the report over the past several days and have already raised serious issues and flaws that should concern all New Yorkers because when there is a bias or a lack of fairness in the justice system, it is a concern for everyone, not just those immediately affected.
The most serious allegations made against me had no credible factual basis in the report. And there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended. There are. And for that I deeply, deeply apologize.
I thought a hug and putting my arm around a staff person while taking a picture was friendly, but she found it to be too forward. I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding and I thought I was being nice, but she felt that it was too aggressive. I have slipped and called people honey, sweetheart and darling. I meant it to be endearing, but women found it dated and offensive. I said on national TV to a doctor wearing PPE and giving me a Covid nasal swab, “You make that gown look good.” I was joking, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it on national TV. But she found it disrespectful. I take full responsibility for my actions.
I have been too familiar with people. My sense of humor can be insensitive and off-putting. I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men. I have done it all my life. It’s who I’ve been since I can remember. In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate, and I should have. No excuses.
The report did bring to light a matter that I was not aware of and that I would like to address. A female trooper relayed a concern that she found disturbing, and so do I. Please let me provide some context. The governor’s trooper detail had about 65 troopers on it, but of the 65 only six women and nine Black troopers. I’m very proud of the diversity of my administration. It’s more diverse than any administration in history. And I’m very proud of the fact that I have more women in senior positions than any governor before me.
The lack of diversity on the state police detail was an ongoing disappointment for me. In many ways, the governor’s detail is the face of state government that people see. When I attend an event, people see the detail that’s with me. I was continuously trying to recruit more to diversify. On one occasion, I met two female troopers who were on duty at an event. Both seemed competent and impressive, and I asked the state police to see if they were interested in joining. I often meet people, men and women, and if they show promise, I refer them to be interviewed. The state police handled the interviewing and the hiring, and one of the two troopers eventually joined the detail. I got to know her over time, and she’s a great professional, and I would sometimes banter with her when we were in the car. We spent a lot of time driving around the state. This female trooper was getting married, and I made some jokes about the negative consequences of married life. I meant it to be humorous. She was offended, and she was right.
The trooper also said that in an elevator I touched her back and when I was walking past her in a doorway I touched her stomach. Now I don’t recall doing it, but if she said I did it, I believe her. At public events, troopers will often hold doors open or guard the doorways. When I walk past them, I often will give them a grip of the arm, a pat on face, a touch on the stomach, a slap on the back. It’s my way of saying, ‘I see you. I appreciate you, and I thank you.’ I’m not comfortable just walking past and ignoring them. Of course, usually they are male troopers. In this case, I don’t remember doing it at all. I didn’t do it consciously with the female trooper. I did not mean any sexual connotation. I did not mean any intimacy by it. I just wasn’t thinking. It was totally thoughtless in the literal sense of the word, but it was also insensitive. It was embarrassing to her, and it was disrespectful. It was a mistake, plain and simple. I have no other words to explain it. I want to personally apologize to her and her family. I have the greatest respect for her and for the New York State Police.
Now, obviously, in a highly political matter like this, there are many agendas and there are many motivations at play. If anyone thought otherwise, they would be naive, and New Yorkers are not naive. But I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints. It’s not easy to step forward, but you did an important service, and you taught me and you taught others an important lesson: personal boundaries must be expanded and must be protected. I accept full responsibility.
Part of being New York tough is being New York smart. New York smart tells us that this situation and moment are not about the facts. It’s not about the truth. It’s not about thoughtful analysis. It’s not about how do we make the system better. This is about politics, and our political system today is too often driven by the extremes. Rashness has replaced reasonableness. Loudness has replaced soundness. Twitter has become the public square for policy debate. There is an intelligent discussion to be had on gender-based actions on generational and cultural behavioral differences on setting higher standards and finding reasonable resolutions. But the political environment is too hot and it is too reactionary for that now, and it is unfortunate.
Now, you know me. I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. I am a fighter, and my instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated. I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful, and I believe that it demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society. If I could communicate the facts through the frenzy, New Yorkers would understand. I believe that, but when I took my oath as governor, then it changed. I became a fighter, but I became a fighter for you, and it is your best interests that I must serve. This situation by its current trajectory will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen. That is how the political wind is blowing. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It will brutalize people.
The State Assembly yesterday outlined weeks of process that will then lead to months of litigation, time and money that government should spend managing Covid, guarding against the Delta variant, reopening upstate, fighting gun violence and saving New York City. All that time would be wasted. This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today. Government needs to perform. It is 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 can not be the cause of that.
New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And, therefore, that’s what I’ll do because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you. Because as we say, “It’s not about me. It’s about we.”
Kathy Hochul, my lieutenant governor, is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant, and so should you be. But she can come up to speed quickly. And my resignation will be effective in 14 days.
To my team: Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Stephanie Benton, Dana Carotenuto, Kelly Cummings, Rich Azzopardi, Howard Zucker, Rick Cotton, Janno Lieber, Jack Davies and the hundreds of dedicated administration officials. I want to say this: Thank you. Thank you. And be proud. We made New York state the progressive capital of the nation. No other state government accomplished more to help people. And that is what it’s all about.
Just think about what we did. We passed marriage equality, creating a new civil right. Legalized love for the L.G.B.T.Q. community and we generated a force for change that swept the nation. We passed the SAFE Act years ago, the smartest gun safety law in the United States of America, and it banned the madness of assault weapons. We’ve saved countless lives with that law. Fifteen dollar minimum wage, the highest minimum wage in the nation, lifting millions of families’ standard of living, putting more food on the table and clothes on their backs. And we led the nation in economic justice with that reform. We have managed every emergency mother nature could throw at us: fires, floods, hurricanes, super storms and pandemics.
We balanced the state budget and we got it done on time, more than any other administration because government should work and perform. Free college tuition for struggling families. Nobody in the state will be denied their college dreams because of their income. We have built new airports, rail, transit, roads, all across this state, faster and better than ever before, and more than any state in the nation. The most effective green economy program in the nation. We did more for Black and Latino families than any other administration. We did more for working families. We did more for our union brothers and sisters. We did more to battle racism and anti-Semitism.
Today so much of the politics is just noise, just static, and that’s why people tune it out. What matters is actually improving people’s lives, and that’s what you did. You made this state a better state for the generations that follow, and that is undeniable, inarguable and true, even in these ugly, crazy times.
I thank Speaker Carl Heastie and Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for their leadership. And let me say this on a personal note. In many ways, I see the world through the eyes of my daughters, Cara, Mariah and Michaela. They are 26 and 26, twins, and 23. And I have lived this experience with and through them. I have sat on the couch with them, hearing the ugly accusations for weeks. I’ve seen the look in their eyes, and the expression on their faces, and it hurt. I want my three jewels to know this. My greatest goal is for them to have a better future than the generations of women before them.
It is still in many ways a man’s world. It always has been. We have sexism that is culturalized and institutionalized. My daughters have more talent and natural gifts than I ever had. I want to make sure that society allows them to fly as high as their wings will carry them. There should be no assumptions, no stereotypes, no limitations. I want them to know from the bottom of my heart that I never did and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman or treat any woman differently than I would want them treated. And that is the God’s honest truth. Your dad made mistakes, and he apologized, and he learned from it. And that’s what life is all about.
And I know the political process is flawed. And I understand their cynicism and distrust and disappointment now. But don’t give it up. Because government is still the best vehicle for making positive social change.
Lastly, I want to remind all New Yorkers of an important lesson and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and that’s what you New Yorkers did in battling Covid. The enemy landed in New York State. Covid launched the attack here. It came on planes from Europe, and we had no idea. It was an ambush. And it was up to New Yorkers to fight back. We were on our own, and it was war.
Nurses, doctors, essential workers became our front line heroes. Hospitals became the battlegrounds. Streets were still, and sirens filled the city’s silence. Trailers carried the bodies of our fallen brothers and sisters. But you refused to give up, and you fought back, and you won, going from the highest infection rate in the nation to one of the lowest. No one thought we could do it. But you did it. You led the nation, and you showed the way forward. And how you did it is what’s most important. You did it together, not as Black New Yorkers or white New Yorkers, not as L.G.B.T.Q. New Yorkers or straight New Yorkers, or Democrats or Republicans, or upstate or downtstate, or Jewish, Muslim, Protestant or Catholic New Yorkers, but as one community, one family, the family of New York. You overcame the naysayers and the haters and the fear and the division. And you unified, and you rose and you overcame.
And you saved lives. And that was powerful in its effect. It was beautiful to see. And it was an honor to lead. Please remember that lesson. Hold it dear and hold it up high for this nation to see because it is New York State at her finest, creating her legacy, fulfilling her destiny, giving life an animation to the lady in the harbor, saying “excelsior we can be better. We can reach higher.” And proclaiming, E Pluribus Unum. Out of many one. unity, community, love. That is our founding premise, and our enduring promise. And that is the salvation of this nation that it so desperately needs to hear. Thank you for the honor of serving you. It has been the honor of my lifetime. God bless you.