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Biden: Cuomo should resign if allegations are confirmed (and he could be prosecuted)

President Biden appears to be inching a bit closer to criticizing Gov. Cuomo over allegations of sexual harassment. Today he told ABC News that if the allegations are confirmed, Cuomo should resign but he also added that Cuomo could face charges.

“I know you said you want the investigation to continue,” Stephanopoulos told Biden, referring to a probe by New York’s attorney general into allegations Cuomo had harassed several women. “If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?”

“Yes,” the president replied. “I think he’ll probably end up being prosecuted, too.”

I’m not sure what to make of this. On one had, the mention of possible prosecution (which Biden brought up twice in the interview below) sounds like a tough stance. On the other hand, he’s still basically taking the same stance as Gov. Cuomo, i.e. let’s wait for the results of the investigation. It’s the same thing Biden said yesterday when asked by CBS News:

The NY Times published a story yesterday saying that Cuomo’s goal is to stay on the sidelines of this fight:

As a longtime friend of the New York governor, Mr. Biden is one of the very few people in the nation with the potential to prevent a protracted standoff between an increasingly isolated Mr. Cuomo and the rest of the Democratic Party. That has strained Mr. Biden’s efforts to stay firmly on the sidelines as the governor faces a fusillade of calls to resign…

But a prolonged period of intraparty sparring over Mr. Cuomo’s future could be problematic for Mr. Biden. It threatens to distract from his early initiatives, including mass vaccination efforts and his party’s imperative to sell the public on the nearly $2 trillion stimulus package Mr. Biden signed into law last week…

“Biden has a long friendship with Cuomo, and I think he and [Nancy] Pelosi and others are clearly hoping the situation will resolve itself through this investigative process, and they’re giving him that much leash, but how tenable that will be over time is very questionable,” said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

This is the point I keep coming back to. It may help Cuomo to delay action if the investigation is going to point to his innocence and the facts are going to cool the hot tempers of his fellow elected officials. But in this case that’s almost certainly not going to happen. We’ve already seen some contemporaneous evidence that supports the claims against him, including texts and emails. So why drag this out when the Biden has other things it needs to do, including selling the stimulus monstrosity? Why not just side with the 18 Democrats from New York, including both Senators, who’ve already suggested Cuomo resign?

It could be that Biden is taking a bet that Cuomo will survive this but I think it’s simpler than that. Biden is trying to avoid becoming the next Sen. Gillibrand. Gillibrand famously called for Sen. Al Franken to resign and Democrats have been whining about it ever since. The White House is probably aware the same could happen to Biden if he pushes Cuomo out. Why fall into that trap?

Even simpler, while there may be evidence to show Cuomo is guilty so far nearly half of New Yorkers don’t want him to resign. Of course that will change if the investigations (there are two) show he’s guilty. And then Biden can drop the hammer. In this case I think Biden and the White House are just reading the polls. If polls showed most people wanted Cuomo out now, he’d say that instead. It’s not a principled stance but he can still claim it is on TV.