By the end of the week, the chorus had swelled against him.
The nation’s top congressional Democrat and his district counterpart joined a growing caucus of New York lawmakers demanding the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, who faces several allegations of sexual harassment, an investigation from his state attorney general, and intense scrutiny over his state’s failure to accurately report Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes.
By Friday’s end, the governor – now largely alone in his battle – insisted his colleagues are engaging in “reckless” behaviour with premature demands.
That afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined a New York congressional delegation demanding his resignation, saying in a statement that the governor “has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York.”
Their statement followed a wave of calls on Friday from more than a dozen House Democrats from New York, including US Reps Jerry Nadler and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as demands to step down from more than half of the state’s 212 legislators. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has flatly said Mr Cuomo “can no longer serve as governor.”
In a joint statement, Congressman Jamaal Bowman and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez said lawmakers “believe these women” and reporting that has “concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges.”
Extensive reporting and accounts from more than 30 women, many of them former aides and state employees, have illustrated a governor’s office dominated by pugilism, impropriety and fear.
“These allegations have all been consistent and highly detailed, and there are also credible media reports substantiating their accounts,” Mr Bowman and Ms Ocasio-Cortez and said their statement.
Separate statements from more a dozen other members of New York’s congressional delegation also followed on Friday.
US Rep Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House Oversight Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Mr Cuomo’s resignation is in the “best interest of all New Yorkers”.
“I support those women who spoke out about their stories and admire their courage,” she said, adding that the accusations against the governor revive a #MeToo and Time’s Up movement demanding accountability.
“We have come a long way, but now is the time to finally ensure that this generation’s courage stops harassment once and for all,” she said.
The allegations against Mr Cuomo have renewed recent debate over the political future for liberal politicians accused of sexual misconduct – from Joe Biden during his campaign to Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate – and the stark contrast among Republicans like Donald Trump, whose lengthy history of alleged misconduct and abuse has not derailed his political ambitions.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that the president “believes that every woman who’s come forward … deserves to have her voice heard, should be treated with respect and should be able to tell her story.”
The president supports the independent investigation from the state’s office of attorney general, she said.
New York congressman and Democratic Caucus chair Hakeem Jeffries stopped short of calling for Mr Cuomo’s resignation on Friday, saying that under the “very serious and deeply disturbing” allegations against him, and the investigations that they have prompted, “the governor must seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively lead the state.”
On Thursday, the state’s top Democrat in the state assembly launched a plan for a judiciary committee to begin an impeachment investigation.
Lawmakers have also cast doubt over the governor’s ability to lead the state – for which he published a book hailing his governance during the Covid-19 pandemic – after findings revealed that thousands of virus-linked deaths in nursing homes were not accurately reflected in the state’s data, threatening to undermine his reputation as the widely broadcast antidote to former president’s chaotic coronavirus briefings.
Despite mounting pressure to resign and a growing body of reporting that has detailed allegations against him, the governor has repeatedly rejected demands from his colleagues, insisting that members of his own party have bowed to “cancel culture” just days after he offered more conciliatory remarks for his behaviour.
Following several statements from members of Congress throughout the day, the governor announced a press briefing on Friday afternoon.
“I did not do what has been alleged. Period,” he announced. “I’m not going to resign.”
He pleaded for New Yorkers to “wait for the facts” as lawmakers and an independent investigation from state Attorney General Letitia James pursue their cases, which are likely to take months, as his accusers surface with their accounts of abuse, bullying and inappropriate behavior.
“Politicians who don’t know a single fact, but yet form a conclusion and an opinion are, in my opinion reckless and dangerous,” the governor said. “That is politics at its worst.”