New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned after an inquiry found he sexually harassed multiple women, prompting efforts to remove him.
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside,” he said on Tuesday, while maintaining the claims were untruthful.
His resignation goes into effect in 14 days. Power will then be transferred to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
The Democrat faced pressure from his own party to resign since last week’s report, including from President Biden.
Why did Cuomo resign?
That investigation from the New York Attorney General’s office found that Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed 11 women, including state employees. He has denied the allegations. It began in 2020 after several women publicly accused the governor of sexual misconduct.
The report caused many prominent Democrats to turn against Cuomo, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Senate leader Chuck Schumer and New York’s two US Senators.
His fellow New York Democrats, who control the statehouse, had also started on plans to impeach him. Mr Cuomo is facing criminal inquiries in several counties as well.
“My instinct is to fight through this controversy because I truly believe it is politically motivated, I believe it is unfair and it is untruthful and I believe it demonises behaviour that is unsustainable for society,” Mr Cuomo said in a news conference announcing his decision.
He said he was resigning because the “current trajectory” of the scandal would generate months of controversy, distractions and “cost taxpayers millions of dollars”.
Cuomo added on Tuesday that the allegations had harmed his relationship with his daughters. “I have sat on the couch with them, hearing the ugly accusations for weeks. I have seen the look in their eyes, and the expression on their faces. It hurt,” he said.
He said he told them he “never did and would never intentionally disrespect a woman”.
Following Cuomo’s announcement, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a long-time critic of the governor, said “it was past time” for him to resign.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Mr Biden had not spoken to his old friend since the report was published.
She praised the “courageous women who came forward” to accuse Mr Cuomo, and noted that Mr Biden had called for his resignation last week.
Who will replace Cuomo?
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will become the first female governor of the fourth most populous US state.
The 62-year-old Buffalo native joined the governor’s team in 2014.
She praised Mr Cuomo’s resignation as the “right thing to do” in a statement, adding that she was prepared to lead the state.
Cuomo’s downfall comes after his public profile reached new heights in the early days of the pandemic, as millions of Americans tuned in daily to his no-nonsense TV briefings.
His departure marks the second time in 13 years that a New York governor has resigned.