WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign following a damning new report from the state attorney general's office that alleged Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women including state employees in violation of state and federal laws.
"I think he should resign," Biden said, sticking by his position from March when he said the Democratic governor should resign if the AG investigation confirmed the sexual harassment claims.
Biden did not say when asked whether the New York state legislature should impeach Cuomo if he refused to step down. The president said he was sure some of Cuomo's embraces of women were "totally innocent" as the governor has claimed.
"But apparently, the attorney general decided there were things that weren't," Biden said.
The president's statement is the most devastating yet politically for Cuomo, who for months has resisted calls that he resign from prominent New York Democrats as he seeks to finish his third term. Cuomo is up for reelection in 2022.
The bombshell report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James's office provided corroborated accounts of harassment by Como that included unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and inappropriate comments, including claims from one executive assistant who says Cuomo reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast.
Responding to the report in a 14-minute address, Cuomo remained defiant, making clear he plans to stay in office and denying the claims. The governor, who was not charged with any crimes, vowed to bring in a sexual harassment expert to train his staff.
"The facts are much different than what has been portrayed," Cuomo said. "I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am. And that's not at all who I have ever been."
At one point, Cuomo highlighted a photo montage that showed him kissing, hugging and embracing famous politicians and co-workers to push back at claims he inappropriately kissed a worker on her forehead.
"I do it with everyone," Cuomo said. "I do banter with people. I do tell jokes – some better than others"
Cuomo, a Biden ally, visited the White House in February to discuss states' needs during the coronavirus pandemic, just weeks before the governor became the subject of sexual misconduct claims.
Even before the AG investigation got underway, the majority of New York's congressional delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called for Cuomo to resign in March after the allegations first surfaced publicly. Calls for him to resign renewed after the release of the report.
"No elected official is above the law," the senators said Tuesday. "The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor's office. We continue to believe that the governor should resign."
"We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said in a statement. "The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign."
In recent weeks, Cuomo had questioned the independence of the investigators. And his office has suggested James, a fellow Democrat, is interested in a run for governor herself, something James has not said publicly.
The report – which includes some previously unreported allegations – followed a five-month investigation. It contends Cuomo and his senior staff retaliated against at least one former employee, fostered a toxic workplace that enabled the harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.
Among those Cuomo was found to have harassed included several members of his staff, a state trooper who was part of his security detail, an energy company employee, and a Department of Health doctor who administered a coronavirus test on him live on television last year.
"I believe these women," James said, calling the claims "substantiated" and "corroborated" but saying it is up to Cuomo whether he resigns. "That decision is ultimately up to the governor of the state of New York."
Contributing: Joseph Spector and Jon Campbell. Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Andrew Cuomo: Biden calls for New York governor to resign