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President Joe Biden: Andrew Cuomo should resign

President Joe Biden takes questions at the White

President Joe Biden takes questions at the White House Tuesday.   Credit: Getty Images/Win McNamee

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a one-time ally and close political confidant, to step down.

"I think he should resign," Biden said when asked by reporters at an unrelated event at the White House.

Biden said he stood by comments he made in March, when he told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that Cuomo should step down immediately if the allegations against the governor were found to be true by the state probe.

Biden was the most prominent in a long line of public officials nationwide and in New York who called Tuesday for Cuomo to resign.

On Long Island, many elected officials and political leaders demanded that Cuomo resign immediately, with some declaring him "unfit for office" after release of a state attorney general's report that found he sexually harassed multiple women and fostered a toxic work environment.

Democratic officials — particularly those who had not previously taken a position on whether the governor should continue to serve — reacted swiftly to Attorney General Letitia James' report.

Minutes after James issued the 165-page report, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran released a statement: "The Attorney General’s findings are clear. The Governor must resign immediately."

Curran, a Democrat running for reelection in November, had been waiting for the report before taking her position.

Curran's remarks Tuesday summed up what many Democrats and Republicans were saying. They included both U.S. senators from New York — Democrats Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, and Kirsten Gillibrand — the state's entire delegation to the House of Representatives and many state legislators.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also called for Cuomo's resignation for the first time.

"Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign," she said in a statement.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, was unusual among Long Island public officials in not immediately calling for Cuomo’s resignation or impeachment.

Bellone called initial news reports on Tuesday about James' report "deeply disturbing," but said he would wait to comment until he had read James' report.

"This is a sad day for New York," Bellone said after a news conference in Riverhead on an unrelated subject. "I’ll wait to review the report."

Cuomo rejected the report's findings and denied the allegations.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) called the report's details "gut-wrenching … the conduct by the governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office."

The Assembly has launched an impeachment probe.

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said James' probe documented "repulsive and unlawful behavior by the governor towards multiple women. I believe these brave women and admire their courage coming forward."

Hochul said because she is next in line to succeed Cuomo, "it would not be appropriate to "comment further on the process at this moment."

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who has announced he will seek the GOP nomination to challenge Cuomo in 2022, said Cuomo "must resign, and if he doesn’t resign, Democrats running the State Legislature in Albany must impeach him. If they don’t impeach him, we must hold Governor Cuomo and every single person who has enabled him accountable at the ballot box on Election Day 2022."

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) who had been awaiting the end of James' investigation, issued a joint statement with Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who represents a portion of western Nassau County, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

The statement concluded: "The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign."

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) said Cuomo's response to the James' report Tuesday "further corroborates what the attorney general and independent investigators found — he encourages and perpetuates a hostile work environment, where victim-blaming and gaslighting are commonplace."

Rice continued: "The whole Executive Chamber needs to be cleaned out."

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who in March had called on Cuomo to resign, said: "Now we know that he must step aside or be removed."

"Not only has Governor Cuomo broken the law by committing disturbing and dehumanizing acts against women, he has engaged in retaliation against his accusers, and also abused his power as an employer, boss, and the leader of New York and most powerful person in this state."

Kaminsky, who is running for Nassau County district attorney, said Cuomo "does not deserve to be the governor of New York."

Kaminsky's Republican opponent for district attorney, Anne Donnelly, said she believed James' findings warrant a stronger response than resignation and impeachment.

"The Attorney General’s report reveals a disturbing pattern of sexual harassment and retaliation on the part of the governor," Donnelly said. "In addition, the alleged forceable touching incident demands a response by prosecutors."

With Rachelle Blidner, Tom Brune and Michael Gormley

State & Region