Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday faced mounting pressure from Democrats, including New York's two US senators, to resign in the wake of a report that found he sexually harassed multiple women.
The investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office found that Cuomo engaged in "unwelcome and nonconsensual touching," and made comments of a "suggestive" sexual nature. The report detailed the allegations of 11 women claiming harassment. Cuomo's conduct violated multiple federal and state laws, James said.
Cuomo has continued to insist he did nothing wrong and made no indication in remarks on Tuesday that he will step down. But the public outcry from Democrats amounts to the most serious challenge yet to his 11-year grip on New York state politics, and it was far from certain on Tuesday afternoon that he would be able to withstand the pressure to leave office.
"As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement. "Today's report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories -- and we commend the women for doing so."
They concluded: "No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor's office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign."
A trio of New York Democratic members of Congress -- Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi and Gregory Meeks -- said in a joint statement that "the time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign."
US Rep. Mondaire Jones, a New York progressive who joined the calls for Cuomo's resignation back in March, told CNN's John King Tuesday that the "governor's conduct is disqualifying" after the release of the state attorney's report.
"I'm hopeful we can resolve this in short order at the legislative level, if nothing else, in terms of removing him from office," Jones said, adding later, "Today is a very, very sad day in the history of our state. In order to move forward, we must have new leadership. "
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who has often feuded with Cuomo, called the actions detailed in the report "unacceptable to anyone, let alone a public servant," after the mayor was read a summary of the report by reporters.
"I've been very clear about the fact that what we have seen is disqualifying," said de Blasio, who, when the allegations surfaced earlier this year, said Cuomo "just can't serve as governor anymore."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer stood by Cuomo earlier this year when the sexual harassment allegations were made public. But on the heels of the new report, he said the findings were "clear and compelling" and that the "Governor must resign."
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran also called for Cuomo to "resign immediately."
New York state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who had launched an impeachment probe into Cuomo earlier this year, said Tuesday that the report was sent to members who will "undertake an in-depth examination of the report" with Assembly counsels and the legal firm it retained.
"The conduct by the Governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office," Heastie said in a statement, calling the report's findings are "disturbing" and the victims' accounts are "gut-wrenching."
Cuomo denied the allegations detailed in the report shortly after it was released on Tuesday.
"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said in a speech, reiterating a position he has held for months despite calls for him to step down.
In March, more than 50 New York state Democratic lawmakers called for Cuomo's resignation, arguing that he has "lost the confidence of the public" and was "ineffective in this time of most urgent need."
A majority of New York congressional Democrats, including Schumer, also called for Cuomo to resign at the time.
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