(CNN)The majority of House Democrats from New York on Friday called on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign from office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations and his handling of Covid-19 deaths at state nursing homes.
The New York congressional members had been largely silent as Democratic state lawmakers were leading the calls for Cuomo’s resignation in the wake of the allegations.
The stunning, coordinated announcements sent shockwaves through the state and could signal a turning point in the scandal. Cuomo has vigorously resisted calls for his resignation, brushing them off as political maneuvers by his rivals. But the congressional group demanding he step down includes members from across the party’s ideological lines and included both senior figures connected to the state political establishment and younger progressive lawmakers. Their decision follows another, less than 24 hours earlier, by Democrats in the state Assembly to launch an impeachment investigation that will be carried out concurrently with the state attorney general’s independent probe.
At least a dozen House Democrats from New York on Friday said Cuomo must resign, arguing that the allegations have impeded his ability to effectively govern and serve the people of New York.
A source familiar with the conversations that preceded Friday’s coordinated call for Cuomo’s resignation said the group has been in touch as the allegations mounted, but only agreed to move forward together on Thursday. They decided to wait until Friday morning to go public so as not to step on President Joe Biden’s speech Thursday night.
The source said the tipping point for the members had been a combination of the most recent developments, including State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s announcement on Thursday that Democrats there would begin an impeachment investigation. The decision to go in, nearly all at the same time, was also an acknowledgement that when one made the call, it would up the pressure on all the rest.
House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement that Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the people of New York” and House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said Cuomo’s resignation would be in the “best interest of all New Yorkers.”
They join Rep. Kathleen Rice, who earlier this month became the first out of the 19 Democrats in the New York House delegation to call for Cuomo to step down.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in a statement they agreed with others who have called on Cuomo to resign.
“As members of the New York delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York State legislature, including the State Senate Majority Leader, who have concluded that Governor Cuomo can no longer effectively lead in the face of so many challenges,” Ocasio-Cortez and Bowman said.
In separate statements Friday, fellow Democratic Reps. Grace Meng, Nydia Velázquez, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Mondaire Jones, Antonio Delgado, Sean Patrick Maloney and Brian Higgins also urged Cuomo to step down as governor.
Cuomo’s administration underreported the number of Covid deaths among New York’s long-term care patients by approximately 50%, according to a state attorney general report from January, and then delayed sharing that potentially damaging information with state lawmakers.
The administration left out Covid-19 deaths of residents who had been transferred out of the facility or to hospitals, a statement from Attorney General Letitia James’ Office said. While the report found that the overall number of deaths did not change, it led to a misrepresentation of the Covid-19 death toll in New York’s long-term care facilities.
Cuomo and his administration defended their decision, arguing that with both the Justice Department and New York state lawmakers asking questions, the federal inquiry became their priority. The governor denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.
Amid the mounting criticism, Cuomo also faces accusations from multiple women of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. The scandal, which has consumed New York politics over the past two weeks, began on February 24, when former aide Lindsey Boylan alleged in a Medium post that Cuomo kissed her on the lips against her will in 2018 after a brief, one-on-one meeting in his New York City office.
Last week, Cuomo offered an apology to the women and said he never knew he “was making anyone feel uncomfortable” and denied touching anyone inappropriately. He rejected calls for his resignation.
“The bravery individuals have shown in coming forward to share their experiences with Governor Cuomo is inspiring, and I stand with them in support,” Nadler said Friday. “The repeated accusations against the Governor, and the manner in which he has responded to them, have made it impossible for him to continue to govern at this point.”
Several of the Democrats on Friday said New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s investigation into Cuomo’s behavior should continue.
On Thursday, more than 50 Democrats of the New York state Senate and Assembly said in a letter that “it’s time for Governor Cuomo to resign,” arguing that he is “ineffective in this time of most urgent need.” The top Democrat in the state Senate, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, on Sunday had said “for the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.”
This story has been updated with additional information.