Cuomo continues to maintain innocence in last day in office

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 1:18 PM EDT
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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) - Soon-to-be ex-Gov. Cuomo remains defiant in his last day in office.

Cuomo used a prerecorded public address to defend himself and his record, and again question the motives of investigators and women who have testified about sexual harassment at his hands.

The governor said that although he’s a fighter by nature, “Prolonging this situation could only cause governmental paralysis, and that is just not an option for you and not an option for the state, especially now.”

Cuomo’s resignation comes after an independent investigation overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James concluded there was credible evidence he’d sexually harassed at least 11 women, including an aide who said he groped her breast. That aide has since filed a complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.

Cuomo insists he didn’t touch anyone inappropriately and called the allegations “unfair” and “untruthful,” but said he wouldn’t force the state to endure an impeachment trial he couldn’t win.

Cuomo compared the wide-ranging independent investigation to a “firecracker” starting a “stampede,” and claimed that the allegations against him have yet to be “scrutinized and verified.”

“The Attorney General’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic, and it did work,” Cuomo said. “There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will out in time. Of that, I am confident.”

Cuomo was also facing a legislative investigation into whether he misled the public about COVD-19 deaths in nursing homes to protect his reputation as a pandemic leader and improperly got help from state employees in writing a pandemic book that may net him $5 million.

Cuomo’s term is set to end at 11:59 p.m. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is scheduled to be sworn in as the state’s first female governor shortly after midnight.

Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair Corey DeCillis hopes the western New York Democrat will be more moderate on issues important to upstate, such as gun control.

The county’s Republican chair, Don Coon, is not quite so optimistic.

“I’m hopeful that with the incoming governor being from western New York and has some upstate roots, I’m hoping some of that gets squashed. She’s not the normal downstate politician and I think she’s going to be great for our area,” said DeCillis.

“Unfortunately, the Assembly and Senate are still going to be led by the progressives from downstate. I don’t see why they’re going to change because the Democrat governor changed. I think we’re still going to have that challenge as downstate is much more liberal than the upstate people are and I think we’re going to be stuck with that, at least ‘til the next gubernatorial election,” said Coon.

Republican north country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik issued a statement saying, “Good riddance to the Worst Governor in America.”

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