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Cuomo: New York governor defiant as more Democrats tell him to quit

image copyrightTom Williams

image captionAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the latest New York politicians urging the governor to quit

Andrew Cuomo has insisted he will not heed calls to quit as New York governor over allegations of sexual misconduct.

He was already being investigated after complaints from five women and is now facing allegations of assault from a sixth.

New York politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler are the latest Democrats asking him to step down.

The New York governor has denied all of the allegations against him.

Mr Cuomo reiterated he would not resign in a phone call on Friday.

“I did not do what has been alleged,” he said. “I never harassed anyone, I never assaulted anyone, I never abused anyone.”

Earlier, Ms Ocasio-Cortez and Congressman Jamaal Bowman released a joint statement that said, “we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature.”

“Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges”, the statement said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a long-time political rival of Democrat Governor Cuomo, told reporters on Thursday that the latest allegation is “disgusting to me, and he can no longer serve as governor.”

“I’m not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians. I was elected by the people,” Mr Cuomo responded on Friday afternoon.

Mr Cuomo, whose term in office comes to an end in 2022, was last year praised for his handling of the Covid epidemic in his state. However, this year he has been accused of obscuring the scale of coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes.

Since the allegations of harassment were made a string of people have called for his resignation.

On Thursday, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he had given the go-ahead for an “impeachment investigation” into the allegations made against Mr Cuomo. The investigation, which will interview witnesses and look at evidence, would be the first step towards impeachment.

More than 55 Democratic legislators in New York have signed a letter calling on him to step down.

image copyrightEPA

image captionMr Cuomo has denied all of the allegations against him

In a statement Mr Cuomo called the new claims, reported by the Times Union of Albany on Wednesday, “gut-wrenching”.

He has previously said that he would wait for the results of an independent investigation into the allegations, which is being overseen by the New York’s attorney general Letitia James.

The political ground is crumbling beneath Andrew Cuomo’s feet.

The worst case for the New York governor was always that the early revelations about his conduct in office would lead to new sexual harassment accusers, exposing a pattern of behaviour.

That appears to be happening, and more New York politicians are lining up against Cuomo.

The flood of the state congressional Democrats calling for Cuomo’s resignation on Friday is just the latest, most significant development.

Some of the names involved are unsurprising. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, for instance, are progressives who unseated Cuomo-backed incumbent Democrats.

The uprising against Cuomo isn’t limited to his left flank, however. It includes House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler – an indication that Cuomo is losing the support of his party’s establishment, as well.

In all, 11 of the state’s 19 House Democrats are now on the record calling for Cuomo’s resignation, along with dozens of state legislators. As the investigations multiply, the pressure on the embattled governor is growing.

At some point the state’s two Democratic senators, including powerful majority leader Chuck Schumer, will have to weigh in – either to throw him a lifeline or, perhaps, deliver a final blow.

What has Cuomo been accused of?

According to the Times Union newspaper, the unnamed woman was called to Mr Cuomo’s private residence in Albany last year on the “apparent pretext” of helping him figure out an issue with his phone.

The woman also reportedly told the newspaper the governor touched her inappropriately on other occasions.

She has not filed a formal complaint.

However, the paper reported that she told a female supervisor about the incident after a group of staff members watched Mr Cuomo give a press conference on 3 March denying previous allegations of harassment.

Mr Cuomo was first accused of harassment in February, when Lindsey Boylan, a former top-level aide, wrote in an essay that the governor touched her without her consent and frequently made inappropriate comments about her appearance.

Ms Boylan accused Mr Cuomo of kissing her on the lips and asking her to play strip poker while on his private jet.

Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, told the New York Times that she “understood the governor wanted to sleep with me”.

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