New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he would resign over a barrage of sexual harassment allegations a year after he was hailed by the national news media for his detailed daily briefings and leadership during the darkest days of COVID-19.
The three-term Democratic governor's decision, which will take effect in two weeks, was announced as momentum built in the state legislature to remove him by impeachment. It came after New York's attorney general released the results of an investigation that found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
"The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to government," Cuomo said at a press briefing Tuesday.
During his resignation speech, he directly addressed his daughters, saying: "I want them to know, from the bottom of my heart: I never did, and I never would, intentionally disrespect a woman or treat a woman differently than I would want them treated. Your dad made mistakes. And he apologized. And he learned from it. And that's what life is all about."
In the spring of 2020, New York became the epicenter of the nation's COVID-19 outbreak.
Cuomo's leadership flaws during that crisis were later exposed when it was learned that the state's official count of nursing home deaths had excluded many patients who had been transferred to hospitals before they died.
His administration was also fiercely criticized for forcing nursing homes to accept patients recovering from the virus – a move which critics say led to many new infections and deaths of nursing home patients.
The U.S. 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 $5 million.
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.