Cuomo Says Ouster over Sexual Assault Allegations ‘Unfair and Unjust’ in Farewell Address

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A farewell speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is broadcast live on a screen in Times Square on his final day in office in Manhattan, New York City, August 23, 2021. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

In his farewell address to the state of New York, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo lamented the investigation into his sexual assault scandal as a political circus that neglected due process and the justice system.

“When government politicizes allegations and the headlines condemn without facts, you undermine the justice system. And that doesn’t serve women and it doesn’t serve men. Of course everyone has a right to come forward, and we applaud their bravery and courage in doing so but allegations must still be scrutinized and verified,” he said.

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After months of collecting anecdotal evidence and corroborating stories, New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report concluding Cuomo had engaged in sexual harassment against former and current female staffers. The state justice department’s consensus triggered loud condemnation and demands of resignation  from Republicans and Democrats at the state and federal level.

Succumbing to political pressure, Cuomo resigned from his post in mid August, leaving Democratic Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul to fill his position as interim governor.

Despite numerous testimonies revealing sexual misconduct, verified by multiple individuals in the governor’s administration, Cuomo declared Monday that a media frenzy caused a “rush to judgement” that he believes to be “unfair and unjust.”

“A firecracker can start a stampede but at one point everyone looks around and says ‘Why are we running?.’… The attorney generals’ report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic, and it worked. There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will out in time. Of that I am confident,” he added.

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To avoid “governmental paralysis,” Cuomo acknowledged that it is politically expedient and in the best interest of New York for him to step down so the state can function “at the highest level.”

In the remainder of the speech, Cuomo touted his accomplishments as examples of “action not talk.” He pointed to the state’s pioneering of police reform, an aggressive green energy plan, and infrastructure projects. In addition, the governor commended the state’s pandemic management, claiming it kept COVID case numbers low while other states suffered high infection rates. He made no mention of his nursing home scandal, in which his staffers allegedly undercounted COVID deaths among the elderly in the state’s assisted living facilities to deflect criticism over their decision to force nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients in the early days of the pandemic.

In a word of advice to his state, he warned against enacting policies that could cause businesses to flee the state, shrinking the tax base and limiting the government’s spending capacity “to do good.”

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“Demonizing business is against our collective self-interest,” he said.

Cuomo said he has hope for the future of the New York and is proud that it has earned the reputation as “the progressive capital of the nation.”

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