Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — who in 2017 led calls for fellow Democrat Sen. Al Franken to resign over sexual misconduct allegations — said Sunday that she finally demanded Gov. Andrew Cuomo step down over his own harassment scandal due to the need for leadership amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gillibrand, New York’s junior US senator, had taken heat for waiting until Friday to call for Cuomo’s resignation, despite being at the forefront of the push to oust Franken, the “Saturday Night Live” funnyman-turned-lawmaker who represented Minnesota.
Speaking during an unrelated press briefing Sunday in Midtown Manhattan, Gillibrand said she decided to finally come out against Cuomo because she felt it was important that New York be led by someone able to give the pandemic their undivided attention.
“Every situation is different,” said Gillibrand, asked how the allegations against Cuomo compared to the accusations against Franken, who ultimately did resign after multiple women accused him of inappropriate physical contact.
“The thing that is very unique about this moment in time is we are in the middle of the worst crisis of our lifetimes.
“Focused leadership is needed and you need the support of your governing partners.”
Seven women — including five current or former Cuomo staffers — have variously accused the governor of inappropriate remarks or physical contact in recent weeks.
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers had already beseeched Cuomo to step down by the time Gillibrand and fellow New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, got around to issuing their own call on Friday.
“Because of the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it’s clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners as well as the people of New York,” she said Sunday, doubling down on her explanation. “That’s why I believe the governor has to resign.”
Should Cuomo resign, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul would take over as governor under state law.
But as recently as Friday, Cuomo, now in his third-term, has said that he has no intention of stepping down, vowing to see New York through its public-health crisis.
While apologizing for inappropriate workplace comments, he has strongly denied any improper physical contact.