That New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, hasn’t yet resigned his position puts his ego and gall in league with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, two other US politicians accused of wrongdoing but who would not back down.
While New York Attorney General Letitia James did not recommend criminal legal action against Cuomo, she did identify a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and intimidation for those who came forward.
That’s not a one-off. It’s not a single accuser. It’s alleged harassment of current and former state employees along with people outside of government. It’s 11 credible claims.
“I believe women. And I believe these 11 women,” James said.
Cuomo denies the allegations. He answered two of them in a recorded speech, where he said one allegation was a case of mistaken intentions and another was simply false. He surely has an explanation for the other nine. He also tried to appear respectful of his accusers while at the same time denying their claims. Answering a charge in The New York Times that he kissed a woman at a party who didn’t want to be kissed, he showed pictures of himself kissing and touching all manner of people and argued kissing and touching are a sign of warmth he learned from his mother and father.
“There are hundreds if not thousands of photos of me using the exact same gesture. I do it with everyone. Black and White, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street,” the governor said.
Cuomo may genuinely believe himself to be innocent and the target of a political attack. Clinton may have believed the same when he was sued for harassment and later, when the Starr Report uncovered his infidelity in the White House. Trump has said he’s the target of multiple “witch hunts,” that odd phrase he’s latched onto and that he’s used when he’s been accused of harassment or worse by multiple women, which he’s denied.
In their cases, tribalism won.
Clinton refused to resign and emerged from impeachment proceedings stronger than ever. Democrats in the Senate protected him from removal. His approval rating actually rose.
Trump used allegations against Clinton to divert from allegations against him in 2016. Then he refused to drop out of the 2016 presidential election, shot the moon, and got elected after he talked about grabbing women by their genitals in leaked audio shortly before Election Day. He survived it all.
The playbook Clinton and Trump wrote, and which Cuomo appears to be following, goes something like this: deny, deflect, do not resign or back down.
The difference for Cuomo may be that his own party is turning on him, like Democrats did on Franken.
It seems unlikely that Cuomo, at the top of New York politics for years, has another elected position in his career. A middle ground for him could be to serve out the remainder of his term and not run for reelection next fall. That’s assuming the state Legislature doesn’t impeach and remove him first.
Regardless, he asked for an investigation, perhaps hoping it would clear his name. It did the opposite.
Hospitalizations. For the first time since February, more than 50,000 Covid patients are hospitalized, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s triple the figure from one month ago.
Analysis: Clinton. Trump. Cuomo. Powerful men in politics are often rewarded.