The report found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former employees and women outside of government
NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced mounting pressure Tuesday to resign, including from President Joe Biden, after an investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said lawmakers would move to conclude their impeachment inquiry quickly.
"It is abundantly clear to me that the Governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office," Heastie said. "Once we receive all relevant documents and evidence from the Attorney General, we will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible."
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee released a joint statement Tuesday and called on Cuomo to resign:
"We are appalled at the findings of the independent investigation by the New York Attorney General. Governor Cuomo should resign from office."
The pressure for Cuomo to resign came after Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of an independent investigation. She said victims included current and former employees, and that Cuomo tried to retaliate against at least one woman who came forward.
The inquiry also determined that Cuomo fostered a toxic work environment and that he also harassed women outside of government.
James said the results have no criminal consequences are entirely civil in nature, but they are fueling renewed calls for Cuomo's impeachment or resignation.
Cuomo remained defiant on Tuesday, saying in a taped response to the findings that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" and that he "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances."
Cuomo said he was hiring an expert to reform sexual harassment training for state employees, including himself.
In his taped response, Cuomo apologized to two accusers: Bennett, who said the governor asked if she was open to sex with an older man after she confided in him that she had been a victim of sexual assault, and a woman he kissed at a wedding.
Still, Cuomo equivocated and lashed out at the investigative process, saying it was rife with "politics and bias." He explained that he's been physically embracing people his whole life, that his mother and father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, had done the same and that the gesture was meant to "convey warmth."
Cuomo's lawyer issued a written rebuttal to the investigation's findings, arguing in most cases that serious allegations, like the alleged groping, didn't happen, or that his actions were misconstrued.
"For those who are using this moment to score political points or seek publicity or personal gain. I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect," Cuomo said.
Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or who he met at public events. One aide in his office said he groped her breast.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips after a meeting in his office and "would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs."
After Boylan first made her allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undercut her story by releasing personnel memos to media outlets revealing that Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff.
Boylan has said those records "were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me."
Other aides have said that the Democratic governor asked them unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was open to sex with an older man.
Last winter, there was a chorus of calls for Cuomo's resignation from many top elected Democrats in New York, including two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. But Cuomo refused to quit and has been raising money for a fourth term in office.
His position on the allegations has also hardened into one of defiance. Cuomo has always denied touching anyone inappropriately, but he initially said he was sorry if his behavior with women was "misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation."
In recent months, he's taken a more combative tack, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the motives of accusers and critics.
He has also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired by the attorney general to investigate the allegations. One of the attorneys, Joon Kim, was involved in previous investigations of corruption by people in Cuomo's administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. Cuomo hasn't expressly said why he believes that would make Kim biased.
James also appointed employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to conduct the probe.
The attorney general's report is expected to play an important role in an ongoing inquiry in the state Assembly into whether there are grounds for Cuomo to be impeached.
The Assembly hired its own legal team to investigate Cuomo's conduct, plus other allegations of wrongdoing.
The legislature is looking into the help Cuomo got from senior aides to write a book about the pandemic, special access that Cuomo relatives got to COVID-19 testing last year, and the administration's decision to withhold some data on nursing home deaths from the public for several months.
Some members of the judiciary committee have said they expect James' report to be "critical" for the impeachment investigation.
New York state regulations say sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature -- from unwanted flirtation to sexual jokes -- that creates an offensive work environment, regardless of a perpetrator's intent.
The governor, in contrast, has repeatedly argued that he did not intend to harass anyone. His office has said he took the state's mandated sexual harassment training, but has not provided any documentation proving he did.
Cuomo championed a landmark 2019 state law that made it easier for sexual harassment victims to prove their case in court. Alleged victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving sexual harassment is "severe and pervasive."
Just last week, Cuomo projected confidence that he would ultimately be exonerated.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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