New York Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday that an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed he sexually harassed multiple women, but he announced shortly thereafter he does not plan to resign.
In harassing women, James said, Cuomo broke state and federal law as he created “a hostile work environment.” James also announced that her office found Cuomo retaliated against a former employee who accused him of harassment.
The months-long probe began after former staffers spoke out against the Democratic governor earlier this year. He said in March he would not step down and denied any wrongdoing, though he apologized for making any women in his office feel uncomfortable.
Cuomo denied the allegations in a press conference after the investigation findings were released.
“First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said. “I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view and that is just not who I am.”
Cuomo then specifically addressed various complaints, including ones made by former staffer Charlotte Bennett. In response to other complaints about inappropriate touching, Cuomo explained he has been touching people’s faces “all my life” and that he learned it from his own mother and father. He then played a montage of himself touching faces of citizens, politicians and celebrities, which you can watch below:
Cuomo also apologized for kissing a woman on the forehead, again saying that is something he regularly does as a gesture to “put people at ease” and “make them smile.”
“I now understand there are generational or cultural perspectives that frankly I haven’t fully appreciated. And I have learned from this,” he added.
Cuomo was grilled for 11 hours in connection to the investigation last month, according to the New York Times. His brother Chris, a CNN anchor, also provided testimony.
Top Democrats began calling on the governor to resign in March and he rebuked them. The accusations of harassment came as he was facing mounting criticism and an impending investigation into his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis. The Justice Department ultimately decided at the end of July not to pursue an investigation into nursing home deaths.