Disgraced Gov. Cuomo stands ground as he says so long to New York in farewell address

Gov. Cuomo refused to give an inch as he gave up office.

The disgraced Democrat stood his ground as he said goodbye Monday, two weeks after announcing his reluctant resignation, with a final pre-taped message for New Yorkers.

Stepping down from office amid a flood of sexual harassment allegations and myriad other investigations into his administration’s handling of the COVID crisis, Cuomo used his farewell address to once again defend himself as he refused to accept blame for his own downfall.

“I understand that there are moments of intense political pressure and media frenzy that cause a rush to judgment. But that is not right. It’s not fair or sustainable,” he said. “Facts still matter.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (AP)

Cuomo is leaving office in the wake of an independent investigation that he authorized, overseen by state Attorney General James, which found credible evidence the 63-year-old sexually harassed 11 women and fostered a “toxic” workplace for young women.

One aide alleged the outgoing governor groped her breast and has since filed a complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. Another recounted a rash of inappropriate and sexually-charged questions. A State trooper assigned to the governor’s security detail under questionable circumstances told investigators Cuomo repeatedly touched her in inappropriate ways.

The Queens-born career politician who saw his national star rise during the depths of the pandemic defiantly maintained his innocence Monday, painting the probe as nothing more than a “political firecracker” intended to sabotage him.

“And it worked,” he lamented. “There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will come out in time. Of that I am confident.”

Cuomo, spared impeachment only due to his resignation, still faces a federal probe into his administration’s potentially illegal obfuscation of nursing home COVID deaths and a state investigation into his $5 million book deal, inked mid-pandemic.

He could also face criminal charges as prosecutors probe the allegations outlined in the attorney general’s report. Lawmakers in the Assembly still plan on publishing a report based on their abandoned impeachment probe.

Front page for Aug. 11, 2021: Sex harassment scandal sinks Cuomo. Gone in two weeks; Hochul to step up. Accusers cheer; pols jockey for 2022. Make that coffee to go, Andy. Gov. Cuomo heads for helicopter to take him out of Manhattan on Tuesday, after saying he'll leave office amid a sex harassment scandal.
Front page for Aug. 11, 2021: Sex harassment scandal sinks Cuomo. Gone in two weeks; Hochul to step up. Accusers cheer; pols jockey for 2022. Make that coffee to go, Andy. Gov. Cuomo heads for helicopter to take him out of Manhattan on Tuesday, after saying he’ll leave office amid a sex harassment scandal. 

Cuomo leaves with a $50,000-a-year pension and more than $18 million in his campaign war chest, although his top aide Melissa DeRosa said he has no intention of seeking office again, NY1 first reported.

While his future plans remain unclear, the son of late Gov. Mario Cuomo, looked back on his time in office with rose-colored glasses.

During his 15 minute farewell, Cuomo listed off achievements from his two and a half terms in the Executive Mansion, touting infrastructure improvements and affordable housing projects and claiming his handiwork made government competent again.

“We have developed, over the last decade, a new paradigm of government in this state, a government that actually works and actually works for people,” he said. “It sounds simple, but it’s all the difference in the world.

“We cannot go backwards,” he added.

At midnight, Cuomo’s reign officially comes to a close when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will officially be sworn in as New York’s 57th governor, making her the first woman to lead the Empire State.

New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul
New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul (Luiz C. Ribeiro)

Cuomo spent his final days in office updating New Yorkers about tropical storm Henri, holding two final weather-related briefings at his Manhattan office, as well as sending out his personal attorney on Friday to once again attack the credibility of his accusers.

Hochul, meanwhile, spent the weekend touring areas on Long Island that expected to face the brunt of the storm and began making administration appointments early Monday.

The incoming governor named Karen Persichilli Keogh, a former aide to Hillary Clinton and most recently the head of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, as her pick for secretary to the governor, the state’s top appointed position.

Elizabeth Fine will be appointed Counsel to the Governor. Fine is executive vice president and general counsel of the Empire State Development Corporation and previously served as general counsel of the New York City Council.

Hochul, a Buffalo native, has yet to name a lieutenant governor. She has said it will likely be someone from the city, a politically-motivated move as she eyes a run for a full term in office next year.

Hochul has said repeatedly she knew nothing of the behavior outlined by investigators in James’ report and she has vowed to boot anyone implicated in the damning analysis.

The probe found that in addition to Cuomo’s misconduct, his top staffers retaliated against at least one of his accusers and tried to undermine the credibility of others.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (AP)

Calls for Cuomo’s resignation began back in March after a handful of women began sharing their allegations against him publicly.

The embattled executive found himself with few allies and little political support after a decade of strong-arming his way through the halls of the State Capitol. The Aug. 3 release of James’ report proved to be the final straw as state lawmakers appeared poised to make Cuomo only the state’s second governor to be impeached.

But Cuomo went out his own way, announcing his resignation on Aug. 10 but giving himself a final two weeks in office. As of Monday afternoon, Cuomo had yet to send a resignation letter to the Legislature and Secretary of State, which he must do according to the state’s Public Officers Law.

True to his combative nature, Cuomo included one final swipe Mayor Bill de Blasio, his longtime rival, in his goodbye speech, telling the camera that Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee and front-runner to replace Hizzoner, “will bring a new philosophy and competence to the position.”

Cuomo didn’t take any similar swings at Hochul, instead wishing her well and adding that he believes “she will step up to the challenge.”

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