Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she backs an independent investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid mounting calls for him to step down after being accused by five women of sexual harassment.
“I think the allegations here are very serious and need to be taken seriously. And I do think that an impartial, thorough, independent investigation is merited and appropriate,” Whitmer, a Democrat, told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday.
But Tapper pressed her, saying she had been outspoken in the past and once said sexual harassment is “not a partisan issue and unacceptable.”
He asked if she watched the CBS interview with Charlotte Bennett, who said the embattled governor made unwanted advances toward her.
“I think that there are a lot of American women who have felt how she felt. And I think that that’s something that resonates and why we need to take this seriously and why there needs to be a full investigation. And whatever is appropriate in terms of accountability should follow,” Whitmer said about her fellow Democratic governor.
“And I think we — it wouldn’t help anyone for me to prejudge where this is headed. But I had the same gut-wrenching reaction that I’m sure that a lot of — that a lot of women in America did,” she continued.
Earlier on CNN, Sen. Joe Machin, the former governor of West Virginia, said he would like to see an investigation be completed into Cuomo before he weighs in on whether he should step down.
”These allegations are serious, but I believe you need to let this investigation go forward. They’re looking into it, the attorney general. They’re looking into that,” Manchin, a Democrat, said, referring to state Attorney General Letitia James.
“So, let’s see and wait until that investigation is completed before you have a rush to judgment. I have seen that happen, and it doesn’t work well. The rule of law is our bedrock of who we are as a country. And I want to make sure that everyone has their opportunity and fair chance. And let the investigation come forth,” he added.
”And then the results will come probably based on that. And that’s what it should be.”
Calls for Cuomo to resign have increased after two more women came forward over the weekend to accuse the governor of sexual harassment — Karen Hinton and Ana Liss.
They join Lindsey Boylan, Anna Ruch, and Bennett in describing disturbing behavior by Cuomo.
On Sunday, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Sunday that Cuomo should step down for the good of the state.
“Everyday there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” said Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) in a statement.
State Assembly Majority Leader Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) also questioned whether Cuomo can continue to lead the Empire State amid the growing scandal.
“The allegations pertaining to the Governor that have been reported in recent weeks have been deeply disturbing, and have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace or anywhere else,” said Heastie in a statement.
“I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor’s ability to continue to lead this state.”
“We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.”
A defiant Cuomo said Sunday that he would not step down.
“I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn’t elected by politicians,” he said. “I’m not gonna resign because of allegations.”
Cuomo has apologized to some of the women for making inappropriate comments, but steadfastly denied improper physical contact, as alleged by all of the women except Bennett.