Biden leads calls for New York governor to resign

US president Joe Biden led calls for New York governor Andrew Cuomo to resign, after the state attorney general determined he had sexually harassed multiple women.

A 165-page report, commissioned by attorney general Letitia James and compiled by two investigators, found that the Democratic governor had broken state and federal law by harassing current and former New York state employees.

The report, which centred on his behaviour towards 11 women, found he had engaged in unwelcome and non-consensual touching, and made “numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature” that created a hostile work environment for women.

“It was a culture where you could not say no to the governor,” said investigator and former federal prosecutor Joon Kim, announcing the findings.

No longer tenable

With the New York state assembly due to convene for an emergency sitting in Albany, Mr Cuomo (63), remained defiant.

Shortly after the attorney general’s announcement, he issued an 85-page legal rebuttal, and a pre-recorded video message in which he protested his innocence.

“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Mr Cuomo said in the recorded video message. “That is just not who I am, and that’s not who I have ever been.”

But Mr Biden made it clear he believed Mr Cuomo’s position was no longer tenable. “I think he should resign,” he said at the White House, echoing similar calls from senior Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Asked if he should be impeached and removed from office if he did not resign, he said “Let’s take it one step at a time.”

‘Deserve better’

In a joint statement, the two Democratic senators from New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, said he should step down. “No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office,” they said.

The son of a former New York governor and brother of a well-known CNN presenter, Mr Cuomo is one of America’s highest-profile governors. He won praise for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 but has faced a string of crises in recent months.

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