Aug 11, 2021
New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul Press Conference Transcript After Cuomo Resignation
New York Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul held a press conference on August 11, 2021, the day after Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation. She will take over his office in 2 weeks. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Lt. Kathy Hochul: (07:57)
It sounds like there’s an audio problem. What a great start. Can you hear me now? It sounds like a commercial. Can you hear me now? All right. All right. Good afternoon and thank you for being here. I spoke with Governor Cuomo yesterday and he pledged his full support for a smooth transition. And I thanked him for his service to our state. Regarding his decision to step down, I believe it is appropriate and in the best interest to the State of New York. And while it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared. I’ve already spoken with Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, labor, business, faith leaders, other state elected officials as well as our tri-state governors. I look forward to working with each and every one of them and all of you to build on progress that we’ve already started. Over the next two weeks, I will continue meetings with current and potential cabinet officials.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (09:05)
I’ll build out my senior staff and I’ll do what I’ve always done, I will travel the state to meet New Yorkers, to listen to them, to assure them that I’ve got their backs and I will take their concerns and bring them back to our state capitol and work with our partners in every level of government to come to solutions. People will soon learn that my style is to listen first then take decisive action. So in 13 days I will officially become the 57th governor of the State of New York. And shortly thereafter, I look forward to delivering an address to all New Yorkers, to lay out my vision for the great state of New York. But make no mistake, our work has already begun. And I know this year and a half has been so challenging for families and businesses across our state. And sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s getting easier.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (10:12)
The Delta variant is still raging, and it’s going to take all of us to defeat it. Our children are heading back to school soon. There’s a lot of anxiety from moms and dads I speak to them and the teachers as well. It’s going to take all of us working together to keep our children safe, our teachers safe, and anyone who works at a school safe. Small businesses are just starting to bounce back into an uncertain world. We need to reassure them that they will be okay. And our workers are once again debating whether they should even go back to their jobs, to go back to their offices, go back to their factories. Is it safe enough? But I know New Yorkers, they are hardwired to persevere and to prevail. And the promise I make to all New Yorkers right here and right now, I will fight like hell for you every single day like I’ve always done and always will. Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions. I’ll be starting the questions by asking Jerry Zremski from the Buffalo News. Jerry Zremski. Hometown favorite, sorry.
Jerry Zremski: (11:24)
Lieutenant governor, I want to ask you about this 14 day transition period. Did governor explain to you why he wanted to wait that long before leaving office and how do you feel about having to wait that long to the reins?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (11:37)
It’s not what I asked you for, however, I’m looking forward to a smooth transition which he promised. He spoke to me about wanting to make sure that the transition to continuity is important. That I’ve an opportunity to meet the cabinet officials, other people as well. So they viewed it as necessary. I’m prepared to take office as any lieutenant governor is from the very first hour you’re sworn in as Lieutenant governor. However, I will take advantage of that time and to continue to engage with the people of the State of New York. I have a vision, but I’m going to continue to develop that. And at the end of the 14 days, I look forward to coming back to a venue like this and to makes sure that we are ready to deal with all the challenges that we face. Morgan McKay from Spectrum.
Morgan McKay: (12:27)
If Cuomo is [inaudible 00:12:27] of any criminal charges would you consider pardoning him?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (12:27)
I’m going to tell you right now, I’m talking about my vision for the State of New York. It is far too premature to even have those conversations. I would ask Josefa Velasquez from THE CITY.
Josefa Velasquez: (12:39)
My mom would be [inaudible 00:12:40]. A couple of years ago while you were still in office you had come out again on driver’s license [inaudible 00:12:51]. In the last couple of years, you have changed your mind. Can you explain to me what the transition has been and also what the last few months have been for you as you’ve been preparing for this role?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (13:05)
With respect to the Green Light law, which is now the law of the state of the land, something that early on in my career as a county clerk, I had taken a position that has now evolved, and that evolution coincides with the evolution of many people, many people in the State of New York. I’m proud of that law. And if you want to read an op-ed that I wrote on it, many people in our state Senate would argue that that was a turning point when they read that and saw the position I had taken in support of that law that are immigrants need that. They need to be able to get to their jobs and parents need to take their kids to doctor’s appointments. And I’m proud of supporting that law.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (13:43)
And you can ask anyone my position on that at this time. I think it’s clearly understood. The last few months, lieutenant governors continued to work regardless of what’s going on around them. And I’m proud that I’ve been able to maintain the same schedule to meet with elected leaders. My schedule has been robust and I’m ready. I want people to know that I’m ready for this. And it’s not something we expected or asked for, but I am fully prepared to assume the responsibilities as the 57th governor of the State of New York. Michael Gormley from Newsday.
Michael Gormley: (14:17)
Hello, lieutenant governor. Have you spoken with President Biden at this point and also do you have a different view of how to handle COVID in New York State?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (14:26)
I understand the president was looking to reach me, but I was on a plane early this morning so I cannot confirm that. I confirm I have not spoken, but I know he expressed an interest. I did have a chance to speak to Senator Schumer yesterday, Senator Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton and countless others. My position will be to, at this point, recognize that there is one governor for the state of New York at one time. And Governor Cuomo will continue to be the governor for the next 13 days. That does not mean that I’m not fully engaged with the healthcare partners, the current commissioner.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (14:56)
And we’ve been getting regular briefings up to the minute. And I’m well aware of the circumstances in our state are frightening for people. And we will continue at this time to review closely what the CDC puts forth. But I’ll be proud to, and looking forward to sharing my vision on how we address this in a matter of a couple of weeks. Denis Slattery from Newsday. I’m sorry, Daily News. I’m sorry. That’s a big mistake to make. Sorry there. Denis in the room? Okay. Hearing none. Okay. Denis Slattery, is he in the room? [inaudible 00:15:34] Denis.
Denis Slattery: (15:41)
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (15:51)
It has been about 24 hours. I’m meeting with all the cabinet officials in the next few days and I’ll be making those decisions shortly and I’ll be happy to announce them in two weeks. Also, we were looking for Dan Clark from PBS NOW.
Dan Clark: (16:07)
In the report, the AG’s report, several members of the governor’s staff were implicated in trying to discredit the women that accused him of sexual harassment. Are you planning on keeping any of them round? Is it fair to say that those will [inaudible 00:16:20]
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (16:20)
No one who was named is doing anything unethical and the report will remain in my administration. Chris Horvatits from WIVB and Channel from Buffalo.
Chris Horvatits: (16:32)
Thanks, lieutenant governor. The word toxic has been used to describe the work environment in the executive chamber. So to follow up on what’s been asked, do you agree or take issue with that term [inaudible 00:16:45] describe it? And to what extent, given that [inaudible 00:16:48], do you see the need to cast turnover?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (16:52)
Well, there’ll be turnover. There’ll be turnover. And that is the description from many witnesses in the attorney general’s report. I think it’s very clear that the governor and I have not been close physically or otherwise in terms of much time. And so I’ve been traveling the state and do not spend much time in his presence or in the presence of many in the state capitol. But that is what is been being reported. And I’m going to stand right here. At the end of my term, whenever it ends, no one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment. Karen DeWitt from New York State Public Radio.
Karen DeWitt: (17:31)
Hey, lieutenant governor. As you know the vaccination rates [inaudible 00:17:35] have stagnated in the state. Are you going to make an effort to get more people vaccinated? Is there any chance you will declare another state of emergency or pose new mask mandates?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (17:49)
Let me answer that two ways. One right now for the next 13 days, the current governor will be making decisions with respect to that. I’m going to use this time to evaluate, and I will tell you that all options are on the table and I’ll be looking very closely at the trends in consultation with our healthcare professionals as well as the CDC. I want people to know that currently the administration does not possess the executive powers that it had last year at the time when I was very engaged in dealing with the COVID response. And actually the authorities held by the administration are much more expansive than they are at this time. That being said, we are going to monitor this closely. And I can assure everyone that we will be looking at all options. But also I believe that the key to get through this has been before eyes for months.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (18:39)
It’s as simple as more people getting vaccinated. We have a high rate of at least people getting their first dose at this time in the State of New York. It’s almost 77%, approaching 70% people getting both doses. That’s good news, but there is a lot of concern about the children between ages 12 and 17, as well as we’ll see what happens with respect to any decisions by the CDC or the FDA to allow younger children to be able to be vaccinated. So I think the answer is very simple, more people being vaccinated is our key out of this. And I’m going to be working with the communities where the rates are higher, the infection and the vaccination rates are lower and to come up with a very strategic approach to target that and make sure we overcome the hesitation and worries, but also to make it more widely available. But that’ll be something I’ll be looking forward to addressing in a couple of weeks. Joe Spector from Gannett.
Joe Spector: (19:34)
Lieutenant governor, thanks. Do you feel the impeachment investigation should continue by the assembly judiciary committee? And you said earlier that you and the governor didn’t have a particularly close relationship, but were you aware of any of the allegations that were put forth in the AG’s report?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (19:50)
I was not aware of any of the allegations whatsoever in the report. The report stands on its own. And I’ve been in this business long enough to know that is not the purview of the New York State governor to dictate to the New York State Assembly or to the judiciary committee on what actions they should take next with respect to anything particularly impeachment. Bill Mahoney from New York POLITICO.
Bill Mahoney: (20:13)
[inaudible 00:20:13] lieutenant governor to succeed yourself in the coming weeks? And do you have any thoughts on who that might be?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (20:19)
Certainly a lot of people have reached out to me. It’s going to be… I’m really excited about working with the next lieutenant governor who will be named within the next few weeks. Currently we’re considering a number of individuals. The fortunate thing for me is that I’ve spent so much time in seven years getting to know many elected officials and community leaders personally, at a friendly level. So I understand who they are. So it will be someone who is no stranger to me, but also someone that’ll carry on the vision of my administration, which is to continue these strongly progressive policies to take this state forward, to get us out of COVID as soon as possible and to rebuild back this great state of New York.
Speaker 12: (21:04)
Now we’re going to take questions on Zoom [inaudible 00:21:06]. Operator, can you please load those questions up, please. Operator, can you please load up those questions, please, for us?
Speaker 13: (21:32)
Can we ask questions while we [crosstalk 00:21:35]. Lieutenant governor, a lot of people look at you as a part of the Cuomo administration because you are part of the Cuomo administration. How will you restore the trust in the executive office being that you are part of the Cuomo administration?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (21:54)
First of all, many people have supported the policies of the Cuomo administration. There is a strong legacy of accomplishment. I was out there fighting in the streets to raise the minimum wage. I was out there fighting for paid family leave. I’ve been the champion of policies to eradicate the spectrum of heroin and opioid abuse. Something that has touched my family personally. Childcare issues. I’ve been out there making the announcements on affordable housing, clean energy, economic development. So that will continue. Those policies will continue and even be more enhanced. But with respect to the particular environment and the reputation of the current administration, I think it’s pretty clear and it’s no secret that we have not been close and I’ve not been associated with that. So I know the job, I fought for the same policies that’s why I’m more prepared than anyone could possibly be for this position.
Speaker 13: (22:45)
Will you release the nursing home data in the alleged coverup? Will you release it?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (22:53)
My administration will be fully transparent when I’m governor. I’m not governor yet. [crosstalk 00:23:00]. All right. [inaudible 00:23:07] team. Please wait. If there’s not any virtuals, I’m sorry to the virtual world out there. Next time. We’ll look forward to seeing you in person.
We do have a question for you, governor. Your next question does come from Andrew Donovan of WSYR in Syracuse. Donovan, you can unmute you mic.
Andrew Donovan: (23:28)
Lieutenant governor, can you hear me?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (23:30)
Yes. Who am I speaking to?
Andrew Donovan: (23:32)
This is Andrew Donovan from News Channel 9 in Syracuse.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (23:37)
Home of my Alma mater, Syracuse University.
Andrew Donovan: (23:40)
I was going to say you’re not shy to remind people you are a Syracuse university alum. So I’m wondering what your messages to the people of Syracuse, a couple of specific things. The state fair starts in a matter of days. And I think people are worried about its capacity and mask wearing and vaccination status with that [inaudible 00:23:59] approaching. And also the outgoing administration had said its health department would not be giving guidance to school districts about mask squaring when school starts in a few weeks. So I’m wondering if you can address both of those COVID related concerns and if you’ll see the state fair for yourself as governor?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (24:16)
I’ve never missed a state fair. It is one of the joys of being a New Yorker. Going to the New York State Fair. I’ll go either as lieutenant governor, which is what I’ll be while the state fair starts or as governor. I understand the concerns. However, I just want to remind everyone that I’m not responsible for the policies with respect to that at this time. I’m still lieutenant governor and there’s one governor at a time in the State of New York. But I look forward to returning to Syracuse. It’s a place I know well. It’s a place where I cut my teeth in activism and look forward to returning for the state fair and eating all that great food. And the Erie County Fair, which is my hometown actually starts today in Western New York. So I’ll be at that fair as soon as I find my way back to Western New York.
Speaker 16: (24:58)
Lieutenant governor, I was wondering if you think that there’s another mechanism for people who want more [crosstalk 00:25:03] like a special [inaudible 00:25:04]?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (25:04)
I think we’re on Zoom right now. Excuse me one minute.
Governor, your next question comes from Tara Rosenblum from News 12. Tara, please unmute your microphone. Go ahead and unmute your microphone, Tara.
Tara Rosenblum: (25:19)
Am I unmuted now?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (25:21)
Yes you are, Tara.
Tara Rosenblum: (25:23)
Okay, lieutenant governor. Thanks for taking the question. This is in regards to who the next lieutenant governor will be. Do you plan on announcing your pick within the next two weeks?
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (25:36)
I expect I will.
Tara Rosenblum: (25:39)
And do you expect that the person you will select will be someone from downstate? We are hearing a few names being tossed around.
Lt. Kathy Hochul: (25:52)
I love upstate, I love downstate. I love the whole state and there are so many qualified individuals. But I’m cognizant of the need for diversity and an inclusive ticket. And I’m going to name someone that I believe the state will be familiar with and would be very proud of. But the process is still in its early stages. [crosstalk 00:26:15]