WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden declined on Sunday to call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, saying he wanted to await the outcome of an investigation into the matter.
Asked on returning from Delaware if Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, should step down, Biden told reporters: “I think the investigation is under way and we should see what it brings us.”
Cuomo faces accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct leveled by at least seven women, including former aides, and has come under pressure from disclosures that his administration withheld the number of nursing home residents killed in the state by COVID-19.
On Friday, New York’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and most of the state’s congressional delegation, including leading progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, urged Cuomo, now in his third term as governor, to resign.
Cuomo, 63, who is divorced, repeated his denial of the allegations on Friday and said it was “reckless and dangerous” for politicians to ask him to resign before they have all the facts.
“Women have a right to come forward and be heard, and I encourage that fully. But I also want to be clear: There is still a question of the truth. I did not do what has been alleged, period,” Cuomo said on a call with reporters.
Asked if he ever had consensual romantic relationships with any of the women, Cuomo said he never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and was sorry if he did.
On Sunday, Democratic U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to join the call for Cuomo’s resignation, telling ABC’s “This Week” program the allegations must be investigated.
“What these women have said must be treated with respect. They are credible and serious charges,” Pelosi said. “The governor should look inside his heart – he loves New York – to see if he can govern effectively.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, often at odds with Cuomo, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” he did not think the governor would resign quickly.
“I think an impeachment proceeding will begin, and I think he will be impeached and perhaps right before that he’ll decide to resign,” the Democratic mayor said. “He should resign right now because he’s holding up our effort to fight COVID. He’s literally in the way of us saving lives right now.”
Republican Governors Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and Larry Hogan of Maryland also both declined in separate appearances on Sunday news programs to call for Cuomo’s resignation, but said the allegations needed to be investigated.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Kim Coghill and Peter Cooney)