National News

Lawmakers Respond to Cuomo Resignation, Hochul to Become New York’s First Female Governor

Lawmakers from Sen. Charles Schumer to Assemblyman Ron Kim issued statements reacting to the news of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to resign. The public also heard from Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who will become governor when Cuomo leaves office in two weeks. (Photo:

WINDSOR TERRACE — Andrew Cuomo, the three-term New York governor enmeshed in a sexual harassment scandal, announced his resignation from office, citing his desire to avoid being “a distraction” as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

His resignation will take effect 14 days from the date of the announcement, he said.

“I love New York. I would never want to be unhelpful in any way,” he said in an address on Aug. 10. 

Cuomo who was facing a likely impeachment trial, said a New York Assembly inquiry and a trial in the State Senate would interfere with the state’s business. 

“It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It will brutalize people,” he said. “And I cannot be the cause of that,”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will become the state’s 57th governor, and the first female to hold the post. Cuomo called her “smart and competent.”

Hochul, a former congresswoman who is Catholic, released a short statement after Cuomo’s announcement, seeking to reassure New Yorkers that she is up to the task.

“I agree with Governor Cuomo’s decision to step down. It is the right thing to do and in the best interest of New Yorkers,” Hochul said. “As someone who has served in all levels of government and is next in the line of succession, I am prepared to lead as the state’s 57th governor.” 

Cuomo pledged “a seamless transition” to a Hochul administration and predicted she will be brought “up to speed” in the efforts to deal with the coronavirus Delta variant and other pressing issues facing the state.

The best thing he could do, Cuomo said, is to “step aside and let government get back to governing.”

Cuomo’s resignation came one week after the Aug. 3 release of a 165-page report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James that detailed accusations that Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including a state trooper, and retaliated against one of them for going public with her allegations.

The investigation also found that Cuomo’s actions violated state and federal laws.

Since the release of the report, accusers came forward to publicly discuss their allegations, and the Albany County sheriff’s office said it had received a criminal complaint against Cuomo from a former executive assistant who accused him of groping her. 

The executive assistant, Brittany Commisso, broke her silence days later in an interview with CBS This Morning: “I know the truth. He knows the truth. I know what happened and so does he. To me, this was a dream job. And it, unfortunately, turned into a nightmare.”

“Maybe to him, he thought this was normal. But to me and the other women that he did this to … well, it was not normal,” she added. “It was not welcomed. And it was certainly not consensual.”

On Aug. 8, Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s secretary who was considered one of his most trusted aides, resigned. DeRosa was mentioned numerous times in the attorney general’s report, which detailed her efforts to corral women to sign a letter defending Cuomo, as well as her part in an effort to discredit one of the governor’s accusers.

Cuomo was rapidly losing public support as he tried to hang onto his job.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Aug. 6, 70% of New Yorkers think the governor should resign and 55% believe he should face criminal charges. Another 63% of those polled said that if Cuomo does not resign, he should be impeached and removed from office.

Cuomo has also been under scrutiny for his erroneous reporting of nursing homes deaths during the height of the pandemic. In January, James released a report that found the governor undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes around the state by as much as 50%.

Assemblymember Ron Kim, a Democrat representing Flushing who has been outspoken in his criticism of the governor’s handling of the nursing home situation, responding to Cuomo’s announcement.

“Resignation is not accountability,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue justice for the 16,000 nursing home families who are reeling from the failures of this administration.”

In the days leading up to his resignation, Cuomo’s lawyers rebutted the accusations contained in James’ report and charged that the investigators were biased against him from the start.

Reacting to the resignation announcement, Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said the women who came forward deserved prayers.

“The last several months, and in particular the past week, have been a difficult time for the people of New York State. Our prayers are with the women who came forward to share their stories. This was not easy for any of them, and their example will help other women to feel empowered to speak out and send the strong message that sexual harassment must never be tolerated, wherever and whenever it occurs,” he said.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a fellow Democrat, quickly reacted to the news of Cuomo’s departure.

“There is no place for sexual harassment and today’s announcement from Governor Cuomo to resign was the right decision for the good of the people of New York,” he said in a statement.

Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis called the resignation “an important first step forward for our state and its citizens.”

Malliotakis also added that Cuomo’s troubles might not be over.

“There are no excuses for the offenses that these women charged him with and hopefully our legal system will deliver the justice they deserve,” she said.

Just prior to his resignation announcement, Cuomo defended himself. 

“The most serious allegations made against me have no credible factual basis in the report,” he said.

The governor also denied that he had deliberately done anything wrong. “I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” he said. He attributed his actions to his efforts to be friendly.

“There is a difference between alleged improper conduct and sexual harassment,” he contended.