As New York legislators arrive at a deal to strip Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his emergency powers, calls for him to resign over mounting allegations of sexual harassment have prompted Cuomo to issue an apology and address the situation.
At a news conference on Wednesday that focused on developments in the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo took the opportunity to address the scandal, stating that he was doing so against the advice of his lawyers in addressing the public.
Cuomo told reporters that he was “embarrassed” by his actions and intends to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s investigation over his alleged conduct, reported Fox News.
He also stated that he would refuse to resign amid pressure for him to do so.
"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it," Cuomo said. "I feel awful about it and frankly I am embarrassed by it."
He added that he "never knew at the time I was making anyone feel uncomfortable," and that that he has "learned an important lesson," and "will be the better for this experience."
Responding to inquiries from reporters, Cuomo said he had taken sexual harassment sensitivity training required of state workers. He stressed that he “never touched anyone inappropriately” when asked about the photograph of him gripping the face of a woman, Anna Ruch, at a party. Ruch claimed that the governor grabbed her face and kissed her cheek without permission. Cuomo argues that it is “customary” for him to greet people that way.
"You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people, women, men, children, etc.,” Cuomo said. "You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. Men, women, it is my usual and customary way of greeting."
Cuomo said that he understood “her opinions and feelings.”
In addition to Ruch, Cuomo has faced allegations of sexual harassment by two former aides.
Despite his remarks, Cuomo made it clear that he did not plan to leave office. "I'm not going to resign," he said.