New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said he believes ‘more information’ will come out about embattled Gov. Andrew Cuomo that will make it ‘harder’ for him to govern after he was accused by five women of sexual harassment.
De Blasio made the comments during his daily press briefing this morning, but declined to directly state whether he believed Cuomo should resign amid the torrent of allegations.
‘I’ll say it my own way,’ he said in response to question. ‘I just don’t see how he can govern effectively when fewer and fewer people believe him. I think there’s more information that’s going to come out that makes it harder and harder.’
De Blasio’s remarks come in the wake of a statement issued by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D) on Sunday, who urged Cuomo to step down as governor ‘for the good of the state.’
Cuomo remains adamant he will not resign on the basis of the allegations and said he will wait until a full investigation into the claims is concluded by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
However, amid Cuomo’s mounting woes, de Blasio is already said to be eyeing an ambitious run to replace him as governor – and is growing increasingly confident he can win, the NY Post reported.
Scroll down for video
De Blasio made the comments during his daily press briefing this morning, but declined to directly state whether Cuomo should resign amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations
De Blasio (above with Cuomo) is said to be eyeing a run for Governor amid Cuomo’s recent woes
De Blasio has routinely skirted around the subject of Cuomo’s potential resignation during his press briefings since the allegations against the Governor came to light in recent weeks.
During a conference on Friday , Hizzoner failed to address Cuomo directly, simply stating the the ‘situation in Albany is sad.’
‘It’s gotten to be worse by the day and fewer and fewer people believe in the governor and that’s a very sad state of affairs for our state,’ he said. ‘But we’re going to overcome it and we’re going to move forward.’
Five women have now publicly accused Cuomo of sexually harassing behavior — after two more, Karen Hinton, 62, and Ana Liss, 35, came forward with allegations of their own late Saturday.
Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.
Her claims were followed by Hinton, who recalled for the Washington Post about an incident in which Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000. Hinton said she tried to pull away from Cuomo, but claims he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room.
Similar to Liss, Cuomo’s former executive assistant, Charlotte Bennett, 25, revealed last week that the governor had quizzed her about her sex life and asked whether she had relationships with older men.
Lindsey Boylan also revealed in a February Medium post that the governor had tried to kiss her on the lips in his office and suggested they play strip poker during a 2017 flight. Cuomo’s office has said these claims are false.
A third accuser, Anna Ruch, 33, then came forward telling the New York Times that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her after meeting her at a September 2019 wedding.
Ana Liss, 35, (pictured left) previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015 but claims he subjected her to sexual misconduct during her time in his administration. Karen Hinton (right) claims the governor summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000 before she managed to escape
Charlotte Bennett (above), 25, worked as an aide for Cuomo. She claims he sexually harassed her and left her ‘terrified’
Anna Ruch, 33, (left) claimed Cuomo behaved inappropriately at a Manhattan wedding in September 2019. Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claims Cuomo commented on her appearance inappropriately, kissed her without her consent and went out of his way to touch her on her lower back, arms and leg
Ex and current Cuomo staffers say they’re ‘waking up to the fact they were in a cult’
Nearly a dozen former and current staffers have detailed to Gothamist/WNYC the working culture inside Gov Cuomo’s office after he was accused of sexual harassment.
Some of the staffers say they weren’t surprised by the allegations given what they claim is a bullying environment and intense work culture inside Cuomo’s office.
Former staffers have described working there as having ‘Stockholm syndrome’, while others said they’re ‘kind of waking up to the fact that we were in a cult’.
Some said Cuomo was a ‘micromanager to the 100th degree’ and had a tough management style.
One staffer who had a fellowship when she was in her 20s in 2013 described how she was quickly set up near Cuomo’s office, with staffers later telling her the governor liked blondes.
She was also told to wear stilettos when in the Albany office.
Some staffers, however, refuted the toxic workplace notions.
‘I think everyone there wants to do the best work they can. Sometimes that work-life balance is sacrificed. I was definitely burned out by the end of my time there. I didn’t take it personally,’ the staffer said.
After Ruch’s claims came to light, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said should a fourth accuser come forward against Cuomo then he should resign.
Following news of Liss and Hinton’s allegations, Stewart-Cousins, the second most powerful elected official in Albany, penned a statement on Sunday calling for Cuomo to step down.
‘For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign,’ said Stewart-Cousins, ‘Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government.
‘We have allegations about sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, the loss of credibility surrounding the COVID-19 nursing home data and questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project.’
Stewart-Cousins continued: ‘New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.’
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued a similar statement regarding the allegations against Cuomo without the call for his resignation.
Although, last week Heastie led the charge to reclaim emergency powers granted to Cuomo at the beginning of the pandemic, timing it with the allegations but attributing the reason for the health crisis being in retreat.
De Blasio applauded the move Monday, saying, ‘It’s time to restore the democratic process fully, it’s time to restore local governance. There’s a reason for hundreds of years we’ve had an approach to governance that gave such ability of local governments to control their own affairs and protect the lives of our own people, because we’re closest to the ground.
‘So we really need to get back to that, especially while Albany is going through some turbulence. It’s especially important to re empower localities, we’re strong, we’re stable, we’re moving forward.’
Stewart-Cousins, the second most powerful elected official in Albany, penned a statement on Sunday calling for Cuomo to step down ‘for the good of the state’
An electronic billboard in Albany displays a message that reads ‘Resign Now’ for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed young women
Cuomo apologized for making his accusers feel uncomfortable during a press conference last week and claimed that the actions were a result of his general behavior with everyone.
In a statement to the Journal, Cuomo’s senior adviser Rich Azzopardi claimed that Cuomo has acted in the same way that Liss described with hundreds of people during his time as governor.
‘Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,’ he said.
‘At the public open-house mansion reception, there are hundreds of people, and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.’
However, on the allegations made by Hinton, Cuomo vehemently denied her claims, with his director of communications telling The Post, ‘This did not happen.’
‘Karen Hinton is a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago,’ Peter Ajemian continued.
In a conference call with reporters on Sunday, Cuomo struck a defiant tone, saying demands by politicians that he resign are ‘anti-democratic.’
Cuomo said his administration’s work helping the state recover from the pandemic is too important for him to step aside now.
‘There is no way I resign,’ he said.
It is unclear what steps leaders in the legislature will take next if the governor does not take them up on the call for his resignation letter.
However, the term ‘impeachment’ has been adopted by some of his most vocal opponents in recent weeks.
Five women come forward with allegations of inappropriate conduct by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured above), who said one accuser’s claims were ‘not true’
Already seeking to triumph from Cuomo’s dwindling popularity is De Blasio, who is reportedly talking to his inner circle and union allies about running for governor.
De Blasio played coy on the matter last week when he was asked on Thursday whether he was eyeing his embattled rival’s job.
‘The future will take care of itself,’ Hizzoner said with a grin.
Behind closed doors, the NY Post reports that de Blaiso is openly talking with advisers about running against him in a 2022 Democratic primary, multiple insiders said.
De Blasio is term-limited and leaves office at the end of this year, while Cuomo can seek re-election to a fourth term in November 2022.
According to the Post, the mayor’s team has reached out to the big labor unions to gauge support, including District Council 37, which represents public employees; the Local 1199 SEIU healthcare workers union; and the 32BJ Local SEIU, which reps building workers.
‘He’s calling his labor friends,’ said one source. ‘He’s interested. I think that no matter what – even if the governor runs for a fourth term — de Blasio will primary him.
Another insider insisted talk about a ‘de Blasio for governor’ run was gaining steam in Albany.
‘I’ve heard it raised in more than a joking manner,’ they said. ‘It doesn’t shock me. This is a guy with a huge ego, an inflated sense of self importance. He’s someone who ran for president even though it was clear he was never going to gain traction.’
One current City Hall official, who wished also to remain anonymous, also told The Post that they full expect de Blasio to run.
‘He ran for president. It fits a pattern of delusion of grandeur. Sure he’d love to be a political commentator, but if there’s a route to run for elected office, he will pursue it.’
All ready seeking to triumph in the wake of Cuomo’s potential political demise is De Blasio, who is reportedly talking to his inner circle and union allies about running for governor
Also Monday, de Blasio announced that public high schools in New York City will welcome students back for in-person instruction on March 22.
‘We have all the pieces we need to bring high school back and bring it back strong, and, of course, bring it back safely,’ he said. ‘We are bringing our schools back fully in September, period.’
The move comes at a time when the number of new COVID-19 cases has sharply declined from a post-holiday surge.
The number of hospitalized patients fell below 40,000 on Sunday for the first time since Oct 20, compared with an all-time high of more than 132,000 recorded on Jan 6.
The improvement in part reflects an acceleration of U.S. inoculation programs, with three highly effective vaccines now available. But public health experts caution that the emergence of multiple variants of the virus could easily reverse any progress in staunching the spread.
New York City shut down schools in mid-November due to an increasing COVID-19 infection rate and has gradually brought students back to classrooms, starting with the youngest students and followed by middle school students last month.
New York City’s school system is the largest in the United States with 1.1 million students and 1,800 buildings.
CUOMO’S STATEMENT ON SEX HARASSMENT SCANDAL
I want to address the recent allegations that have been made against me.
As you know the Attorney General is doing an independent review. I will fully cooperate with that review. The lawyers say I shouldn’t say anything when you have a pending review.
I understand that. I am a lawyer too.
But, I want New Yorkers to hear from me directly on this.
First, I fully support a woman’s right to come forward and I think it should be encouraged in every way.
I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional. And I truly and deeply apologize for it.
I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it. That’s not easy to say. That’s the truth. This is what I want you to know and I want you to know this from me directly: I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never touched anyone inappropriately.
I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feeling uncomfortable.
I certainly never ever meant to offend anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever do that.
I ask the people of this state to wait for the facts from the Attorney General’s report before forming an opinion.
Get the facts please before forming an opinion.
I will fully cooperate with it.
Then you will have the facts. Make a decision when you have the facts.
I have learned from what has been an incredibly difficult situation. I’ve learned an important lesson.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone I never intended it.
I will be the better for this experience.