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Pressure on Cuomo to resign mounts as Jacobs, others abandon him

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his New York

Key supporters called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to quit in the wake of the AG report that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women. Newsday's Faith Jessie spoke with Albany bureau chief Yancey Roy on Wednesday.

Pressure was mounting Wednesday for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to resign, with state Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs abandoning him along with other major allies, three more district attorneys announcing criminal investigations and Democrats worrying about the impact of what could be a two-month-long impeachment process.

It marked a day of fast developments a little more than 24 hours after Attorney General Letitia James issued a report concluding the governor sexually harassed 11 women and, in doing so, broke multiple state and federal laws.

Major labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, said they no longer could support their political ally. Late in the day, Cuomo suffered another blow when his hand-picked leader for the state Democratic Party said it was time to quit.

Jacobs, who also is chair of the Nassau County Democratic Committee, said the governor has "lost his ability to govern, both practically and morally."

He said he'd urged the governor to resign after the James' report was published to avoid impeachment. But the governor refused.

"It appears that contrary to what I have advised, the governor may seek to prolong the current situation," Jacobs said. "I have called the governor this afternoon to inform him of my decision to issue a statement."

He continued: "The facts presented make clear that there is a preponderance of evidence of both a toxic workplace and actual sexual harassment. I agree with the attorney general. I believe the women. I believe the allegations. I cannot speak to the governor’s motivations. What I can say is that the governor has lost his ability to govern, both practically and morally."

Jacobs and other sources said the Cuomo administration planned an 11 a.m. appearance to offer a "point by point" rebuttal of the James report and its allegations and asked the chairman to hold off making a statement.

But then the appearance was delayed. By midafternoon, Cuomo aides asked Jacobs to wait until Thursday.

"At that point it was clear this was just being drawn out and I didn't see the outcome changing," Jacobs said. So he issued his call for the governor to resign.

Legislators said Cuomo, whose bruising style has cost him allies over his 11 years in office, has no support to survive impeachment even in a Democratic-controlled legislature. If so, Cuomo would be only the second New York governor impeached and the first since William Sulzer in 1913.

"It's over. There's no gray area. There's no maybe. There's no scenario in which the governor survives this," Sen. James Skoufis (D-Cornwall) said on Fox News Wednesday.

A Marist College poll released Wednesday said 59% of New Yorkers believe he should resign and just 18% of Democrats would support his reelection.

Meanwhile, Cuomo, sources said, started reaching out to call in markers. But none of the African American or female politicians, who had been appearing with him at events in recent months, would back him, the sources said.

They say Cuomo is still in fight mode, and his argument is that kissing, hugging and touching that was misconstrued as inappropriate shouldn’t be enough to lose your job as governor. The argument to the public would have to be "this is a sex scandal without the sex," the sources said.

"This morning he was defiant," said an administration official close to Cuomo. But the idea of holding a rebuttal news conference or issuing another video statement was paused following announcements by several district attorneys they might be pursuing criminal cases regarding the James report, a source said.

Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith, Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. separately announced they have requested materials from James' report to pursue investigations related to the alleged harassment incidents. Along with Albany County, this makes four local prosecutors to begin pursuing possible criminal charges against the governor.

"We are reviewing the deeply disturbing findings of the attorney general's report regarding the governor's alleged conduct," Smith said. "We have requested the attorney general's records related to any incidents that occurred in Nassau County and will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate any potential crimes."

Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who announced his ongoing investigation Tuesday, posted a video online Wednesday saying any other alleged victims who haven’t come forward should contact his office.

"For those of you who did not come forward and now are inspired to, and cooperate with a criminal investigation, please reach out to our office," Soares said. "We will conduct this investigation in the most private and discreet manner."

Meanwhile, more unions — which provided essential support for Cuomo in his election campaigns — abandoned him.

Even while citing Cuomo’s success in raising New York’s minimum wage, the AFL-CIO and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union said they could no longer support the Democrat.

"Governor Cuomo needs to recognize the harm he has caused the women who have bravely come forward. While we acknowledge the good things he has achieved, now is the time for Governor Cuomo to resign," the RWDSU said in a statement Wednesday.

Mario Cilento, AFL-CIO state president and frequent ally at numerous Cuomo events over the governor's 11 years in office, said: "There must be accountability without exception. Governor Cuomo can no longer lead the state."

This came after President Joe Biden — a longtime Cuomo friend and ally — said Tuesday the governor should step down.

The loss of key supporters was just one of the fast-moving developments in the scandal engulfing the third-term Democratic governor.

James’ report sparked a three-hour emergency meeting of Assembly Democrats — the Capitol faction that controls the impeachment process — who emerged to say that no one defended the governor and that they would accelerate an impeachment inquiry "expeditiously."

If the legislature moves to impeach — the Assembly would charge the governor, the Senate would act as jury — Democrats said Cuomo would have little chance of acquittal.

"It was overwhelming. Impeach. ASAP," one Democrat told Newsday about the closed-door Assembly meeting.

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