Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a rebuttal address to New Yorkers in response to the state attorney general’s explosive report and press conference.
The Democrat leader downplayed his overly affectionate treatment of both female staffers and others who came into his orbit, claiming he intended to “convey warmth, nothing more.”
Cuomo said he had violated the personal space of hundreds—young and old, men and women, gay and straight—during the course of his political career.
“I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure that I did,” he said of one accusation that occurred at an office party.
“… I do, on occasion, say ‘Ciao Bella,'” he claimed, seeming to suggest that his Italian heritage was to blame for the violations of state and federal law outlined in the independent AG report. “On occasion I do slip and say ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’ or ‘honey.'”
In his barrage of excuses, Cuomo also pointed to the fact that his egregious conduct had long hidden in plain sight.
“I am the same person in public that I am in private,” he said.
But he dismissed the actions, outlined in detail by at least 11 female accusers, as a cultural and generational misunderstanding.
“I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that, frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated—and frankly, I have learned from this,” he claimed.
Cuomo also deflected by playing the victim of a “double standard” waged against males, on whom he argued unfair work expectations were often pinned.
“When have you ever seen male managers maligned and villainized for working long hours,” he asked.
And he insisted that the charges brought against him were, in many aspects, politically motivated, despite the fact that fellow Democrats—including state Attorney General Letitia James—were leading the charge.
“Today we are living in a super-heated, if not toxic political environment—that shouldn’t be lost on anyone,” he said, echoing some of the words used to describe his own hostile workplace. “Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation.”
He said that the baseless allegations against him—including an account that he groped a woman’s breast beneath her blouse without any consent—would effectively diminish the weight of legitimate sexual harassment allegations.
Nonetheless, he said he would subject his entire staff to new sexual harassment claiming as the result of his indiscretions.
“I accept responsibility, and we are making changes,” he claimed.
One thing Cuomo had yet to accept responsibility for was the nursing-home scandal and cover-up that has been the subject of one of several parallel investigations.
After marketing himself as a model leader—in contrast to then-President Donald Trump—in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo was exposed for covering up thousands of deaths that were the direct result of his policy forcing infected and healthy patients to intermingle.
He directly profited off the deception by inking a lucrative book deal worth millions.
“The stakes we deal with are very high, sometimes life and death,” he hinted in his address.
He later tried to frame his pandemic response—as well as the mass exodus of New Yorkers that has devastated the state economy—as reasons voters should not want to change horses mid-stream.
“We still have to manage the COVID beast—it is not dead yet,” he said. “We then have to reopen and reimagine our state.”