Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens during a news conference in New York. File/AP
The pressure against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over sexual harassment allegations reached the White House on Tuesday, with President Joe Biden saying Cuomo should resign if the state attorney general’s investigation confirms the claims against him.
Biden made the remarks in an interview with ABC News that is scheduled to air Wednesday. When asked by anchor George Stephanopoulos whether Cuomo should resign if the investigation confirms the women’s claims, Biden said “yes” and added, “I think he’d probably end up being prosecuted, too.”
“It takes a lot of courage to come forward so the presumption is it should be taken seriously,” Biden said. “And it should be investigated, and that’s what’s underway now.”
Cuomo is facing allegations that he sexually harassed or behaved inappropriately toward multiple women, including several former staffers. The former staffers have accused Cuomo of workplace harassment, including demeaning them with pet nicknames or making objectifying remarks about their appearance, subjecting them to unwanted kisses and touches or asking them about their sex lives.
Cuomo also faces an allegation that he groped a female staff member under her shirt after summoning her to the governor’s mansion in Albany late last year. He has denied touching any women inappropriately.
The first woman to publicly speak out against Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan, said the governor kissed her on the lips without consent and “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday when Boylan initially accused the governor of harassment in December, some of Cuomo’s aides and allies drafted an open letter attacking her as part of a campaign to undermine her credibility.
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The Times, speaking to three people with direct knowledge, said the letter accused Boylan of being politically motived. One of the people told the Times that Cuomo had been involved in drafting it.
The letter ultimately wasn’t released.
A query was sent to Cuomo’s office asking about the Times’ report, as well as Biden’s comments.
The three-term governor has rejected calls for his resignation from fellow Democrats, including New York’s two US senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and has asked New Yorkers to await the results of an investigation headed by state Attorney General Letitia James.
James last week named a former federal prosecutor, Joon Kim, and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to lead the Cuomo investigation. They have full subpoena power and will document their findings in a public report.
One of his accusers met with investigators for more than four hours on Monday.
The sexual harassment investigation is in addition to scrutiny that Cuomo is facing from federal prosecutors who are looking into how his administration handled data on COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes.
Biden himself faced a sexual assault allegation by a former member of his staff, Tara Reade, who said he groped and kissed her in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building in 1993. Biden has denied her claims, and multiple current and former Biden staffers have said they have no recollection of such an encounter.
Biden also faced criticism for not respecting personal space as he geared up to run for president, prompting him to release a video in which he promised to be “much more mindful.”
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