Not since Caesar met his end has a political leader been knifed by as many people all at once as Cuomo was this morning. It started with progressive America’s favorite (well, second-favorite) politician joining her new “Squad” colleague from New York, Jamaal Bowman, in finally demanding that the governor quit.
After two accounts of sexual assault, four accounts of harassment, the Attorney General’s investigation finding the Governor’s admin hid nursing home data from the legislature & public, we agree with the 55+ members of the New York State legislature that the Governor must resign. pic.twitter.com/jV5dwtuVPr
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 12, 2021
Note the bit about the safety of Cuomo’s staff. State legislator Ron Kim made that point yesterday too in calling for the state assembly to remove him immediately, not wait around for the results of an impeachment probe or the state AG’s investigation. If Cuomo’s a danger to the women around him, he needs to go ASAP.
Except … that’s tantamount to “guilty until proved innocent.” If he were removed from office and then cleared of wrongdoing, what then? If the safety of his staffers is top priority, there are less draconian ways (e.g., staffers meeting with him in groups) to ensure he doesn’t do anything improper until the relevant authorities are done investigating him.
The AOC/Bowman statement was the tip of the iceberg. Jerry Nadler, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, lowered the boom on Cuomo next:
Read my statement calling for the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo. pic.twitter.com/JyZntu9HJS
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) March 12, 2021
That’s more nuanced. If Cuomo can’t lead effectively anymore, says Nadler, that’s reason enough for him to resign — although, again, it raises the question of what should happen if he ends up being cleared. Would Nadler endorse him to be the party’s nominee in the 2022 gubernatorial primary if no wrongdoing is substantiated? Also, if Cuomo refuses to resign, would Nadler support impeaching him? The standard for impeachment typically is higher than “he can’t lead effectively while under suspicion.”
House Dems were just getting warmed up with AOC, Bowman, and Nadler:
UPDATE: 10 Dem U.S. Reps from NY call on Cuomo to resign in statements within minutes
Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat, Antonio Delgado
Kathleen Rice already had
— Taniel (@Taniel) March 12, 2021
That’s a majority of the state’s Democratic caucus, but it’s not just House Democrats who are after him. Last night I noted that progressives are spearheading the charge against Cuomo in the state legislature whereas more moderate Dems were keeping their powder dry. But suddenly they’re coming off the fence too:
Big in Albany: The state Senate Dem delegation from Long Island — a key part of Cuomo's political base — is calling for him to "step aside" until AG investigation over.
Includes Senators John Brooks, James Gaughran, Todd Kaminsky, Anna Kaplan and Kevin Thomas pic.twitter.com/ap0ADnQGjn
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) March 12, 2021
That’s a compromise position, not asking him to resign but rather to just sort of … go on hiatus, as if he’s been incapacitated for illness and physically can’t perform his duties. That at least would solve the problem of how to reinstate Cuomo if he’s cleared.
There’s no word as I write this from Chuck Schumer or, ironically, Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s been famously quick in the past to call for pols accused of #MeToo offenses to quit before they’re investigated. If Schumer and Gillibrand turn on Cuomo too, that’ll put him in a position where virtually the entire state party establishment is on record as saying he’s no longer fit to serve. He could ignore them, but if the AG probe or the state assembly investigation ends up accusing him of wrongdoing, he’ll have a much harder time in his primary last year. Would he want to tough it out and take his chances or would he decide that he’s had enough and quit now?
Just as I’m writing this, another prominent New York Dem — the head of the DCCC — is out with a “Cuomo must go” statement:
My statement on Governor Andrew Cuomo: pic.twitter.com/Q4T6XlPRfD
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) March 12, 2021
Hakeem Jeffries is still silent for the moment but that can’t last for long. There’s no incentive for any ambitious Democrat to hold back at this point, really: Cuomo’s had a stranglehold on the state for a decade but his approval has slipped lately amid double-barreled scandal and the fear he inspires in pols within his party has clearly slipped with it. If you want to create political space ahead of a primary for some younger Dem to run for governor — maybe AG Tish James, maybe Jeffries — now’s the time to shove him with all your might. If he can hang on and the results of the AG and state assembly probes aren’t too terrible for him, he really might recover in time for a fourth term next year. It may be now or never to end Cuomo’s reign of terror, his party seems to realize.
While we wait to see what he does, read this account by a woman journalist just published at New York magazine about Cuomo getting handsy with her too. Not in an overtly prurient way, she says, but just to show her that he could get away with touching her. Exit quotation: “I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”
Update: If he doesn’t quit, stuff like this might be trickling out for months:
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) March 12, 2021
Imagine if there were a single viable Republican in New York capable of capitalizing on this.
Update: Gonna guess this that he’ll reiterate he’s not going anywhere, especially not before the AG investigation is done, because that would be anti-democratic or something:
BREAKING: @NYGovCuomo announces a 1 PM presser after a dozen Congressional Dems call for his resignation.
— Jesse McKinley (@jessemckinley) March 12, 2021
Update: As expected:
Andrew Cuomo is NOT resigning. "There is still a question of the truth," Cuomo says. "I did not do what was alleged. Period."
— Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan) March 12, 2021
It’s the state assembly’s move now. The only way Cuomo leaves before his term is up is impeachment — or, maybe, if Joe Biden turns on him, which might make him unelectable in New York. Silence thus far from the White House.
Update: I admire the sheer balls it took for him to say this:
Andrew Cuomo: "People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth. Let the review proceed, I’m not going to resign, I was not elected by the politicians, I was elected by the people"
— Reid Wilson (@PoliticsReid) March 12, 2021
“Cancel culture” is when you’re punished for some of act of ideological wrongthink, not when you’re punished for allegedly groping a woman staffer under her blouse. And remember that Cuomo has been quick to call for the resignations of other politicians accused of sexual misconduct, before the case against them has been proved. He has no problem with malefactors being “canceled.” He has a problem with people wanting to cancel him.
Update: This son of a three-term former governor, who’s now serving a third term as governor himself, wants fans to know that he’s being targeted for being an outsider:
LOL, Cuomo saying "he's not part of the political club" literally one minute before talking about how he's been a public figure in Albany since he was teenager.
— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) March 12, 2021