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Biden calls on Cuomo to resign over sexual harassment allegations

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President Biden called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Tuesday after an investigation found he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.

During a White House press conference on the coronavirus pandemic, Biden was asked about the prominent Democrat and said he believed Cuomo should resign. When asked if the governor should be impeached, Biden said, “Let’s take one thing at a time here.”

“I think he should resign,” Biden said. “I understand that the state Legislature may decide to impeach, I don’t know that for a fact. I haven’t read all that data.” Biden added that he had not read the report or spoken to Cuomo.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released the report late Tuesday morning, saying at a press conference that Cuomo had “sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws. The independent investigation found that Gov. Cuomo harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments.”

Andrew Cuomo and Joe Biden
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Biden. (N.Y. Governor's Office via Reuters; Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a video statement following James’s report, Cuomo said that he hadn’t sexually harassed anyone and his actions with the 11 female accusers were portrayed incorrectly due to cultural and generational differences. He painted himself as a champion of sexual assault victims, apologizing to Charlotte Bennett, one of his accusers, whom the governor said he was trying to help, and added he would institute new sexual harassment policies for the state.

He also released a report on Tuesday that contains dozens of photos showing him touching and kissing numerous people, including Biden. Cuomo also included a photo of former President Barack Obama hugging a Hurricane Sandy victim.

When asked about the use of the photo, Biden said, “I’m sure [there were] some embraces that were totally innocent, but apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.”

During an interview with ABC News in March, Biden was asked if Cuomo should resign if the investigation confirmed the women’s claims. He replied, “Yes, I think he will probably end up being prosecuted too.”

At her daily press briefing, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the findings “abhorrent.”

She did not offer an official statement, saying Biden would answer questions about Cuomo later Tuesday afternoon.

"The White House’s message, the president’s message, the vice president’s message, my message, is all women who have lived through this type of experience, whether it is harassment or abuse or, in the worst case, assault, deserve to have their voices heard, deserve to be treated with respect and with dignity,” Psaki said. “I don't know that anyone could have watched this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent. I know I certainly did.”

A number of prominent Democratic officials from New York who had called for Cuomo to resign in March reiterated their positions following Tuesday's report, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added her voice Tuesday afternoon, saying, "Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the governor to resign."

The report Tuesday revealed new accusations against Cuomo, including from a New York state trooper assigned to protect him. The trooper accused the governor of touching her, kissing her and making inappropriate comments that she said he did not make toward her male colleagues. The investigation took nearly five months and included interviews with 179 people.

The first public claim against Cuomo was made in late February. He is also under scrutiny for his handling of assisted-living facilities during the pandemic, including accusations that the state hid the actual COVID-19 death toll.

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