Aug 10, 2021
NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Resigns: Press Conference Transcript Announcing Resignation
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation during a press briefing on August 10, 2021. The resignation follows the state AG’s investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Cuomo. Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, also joined the briefing to speak about these accusations. Read the transcript of the full press conference speech here.
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Rita M. Glavin: (00:00)
… is being used to impeach and take down an elected official. Let me start with some of the facts that the report got wrong. The report that the media has repeatedly credited and not bothered to present the other side. The report concluded on page 24 and on page 142, affirmatively concluded that the governor groped Ms. Commisso on November 16th of 22, concluded it definitively. And at the Attorney General’s press conference on August 3rd, one of the investigators Ann Clark said it definitively to the world that governor Cuomo groped the breast of an executive assistant in the mansion during the work day. But what was so apparent when I read the report is that the investigators didn’t bother to collect a review or evidence about November 16th to determine if their conclusion was correct. And everyone has to ask themselves, why didn’t they do that? Why didn’t they get all of the emails from that day? Why didn’t they get the records about when Ms. Commisso entered and left the mansion? And why didn’t they speak to any of the witnesses? And there were many who were in the mansion that day.
Rita M. Glavin: (01:38)
They didn’t collect the documents that prove the most serious allegations was false. Records from the mansion reflect that senior members of staff were present there on November 16th. And the investigators did not ask, they did not ask any of those people about what they saw, what they heard, what Ms. Commisso was doing that day.. Her version of events, which she conveyed to the Times Union in an April 7th anonymous interview about the amount of time that she was in the mansion and what she was in the mansion for, they don’t match it up with the documentary evidence and the investigators didn’t get that.
Rita M. Glavin: (02:28)
And now, we are in a situation where as of yesterday, I read the Albany Times Union and it says that the governor groped her around November 25th is what she is saying. As I’ve said before, my team has looked through the records for November and we’re aware of no record indicating that Brittany Commisso was at the mansion in November on any other than November 16th. And Ms. Commisso has consistently said this occurred in November. Why did the investigators not get the records? And why did they not include them in the report?
Rita M. Glavin: (03:17)
What else was so bothersome and very hard for me to take as a lawyer for the governor is that the report suggests that the governor testified falsely about that day. It suggests that when the governor said others were present, including maybe up to 10 staff members in the mansion, the report just discredited him. But I now know that they did not bother to get the records and the email that reflected who was in the mansion that day. In fact, the documents prove that the governor testified truthfully. Numerous staff were present, including Ms. Melissa DeRosa, Stephanie Benton, and Peter Jamian and the staff that is around there all throughout the day, helping out with various things within the mansion. Ms. Commisso was there for three hours. She was there to work on a speech. She wasn’t there to fix a technical issue with the governor’s phone, which is what she told the Times Union. And Ms. Commisso said that at some point during this day that the governor shut the door so hard, so hard, and then groped her that she thought for sure, someone must think, “Hey, what’s going on? Did they hear that?”
Rita M. Glavin: (04:46)
The Attorney General’s investigators did not ask the witnesses who were in the mansion that day about what they heard and what they saw. And during the governor’s testimony on July 17th, the investigators told the governor unequivocally, unequivocally that this occurred on November 16th. So why not ask the people that were there. Ask yourselves that question and whether this report was meant to be thorough and fair and to give everyone a balanced view to draw conclusions for themselves.
Rita M. Glavin: (05:29)
The report also states, and the attorney general has stated that Ms. Commisso’s claim of a sexual assault on November 16th or November 25th, another day in November was independently corroborated. And that’s not true. The only corroborated fact is that she first made her claim in March after the investigation began. The independent corroboration corroborates the governor. The simultaneous emails and documents corroborates Governor Cuomo. There was also testimony by several witnesses about potential motives in what was going on with Ms. Commisso in late 2020, and early 2021, and concerns she had about her job, that she had been turned down for a raise and concerns that there was a possibility that because her work hours might change, she could be transferred.
Rita M. Glavin: (06:46)
That was not stated in the Attorney General’s report. Another aspect to the Attorney General’s report deals with a referral to the Albany Police Department about Ms. Commisso’s claims. Now I’m sure a lot of you have seen over the last several days that Ms. Commisso made a complaint to Sheriff Abbott, the Albany county sheriff. Well, what no one is talking about is that it was actually the executive chamber that referred Ms. Commisso complaint, when she first made it, when she was out with friends for drinks on March 6th, and then a lawyer called the executive chamber on Monday, March 8th.
Rita M. Glavin: (07:35)
And when that lawyer called to make the allegation, the lawyer indicated that he did not want to pursue this criminally, but it was the executive chamber that referred the allegation to the Albany Police Department. And as further evidence of the bias of this report, look at page 147, buried in footnote 1, 239. The report won’t even credit the executive chamber for this. It said, “We understand that certain criminal authorities, including the Albany Police Department have been alerted to the most egregious allegations of physical touching, including the groping of executive assistant one.:
Rita M. Glavin: (08:22)
I ask you why couldn’t the report say the executive chamber promptly reported it to the Albany Police Department? And it’s because every inference was going to be drawn against the executive chamber and Governor Cuomo. The report got key facts wrong. It omitted key evidence. And it failed to include witnesses whose testimony did not support the narrative that was clear that this investigation was going to weave from day one. And I want to talk about that.
Rita M. Glavin: (09:07)
This began in December of 2020 with Lindsey Boylan. Lindsey Boylan made some tweets and December 5th and December 13th that talked about her departure from the mansion and accused the governor of sexual harassment. One of the things that she said in an article she published on Medium in February a couple months later, is that she was on a plane with the governor, and he made it comment about, “Hey, let’s play strip poker.” There will several other staff members on the flights with Miss Boylan and every single one of them that didn’t happen. And after that came out, that they said that didn’t happen. One of the people on the flights was Howard Zemsky, the head of the Empire State Development Agency. And he testified that he received a disparaging message from Ms. Boylan that he found, “jarring and threatening,” and the report mentions this. But they noticeably don’t tell you what that message was. They don’t include it as an exhibit.
Rita M. Glavin: (10:24)
Why not? That is the equivalent of witness tampering. And if any member of the chamber or the governor himself had engaged in that conduct, that would be another 10 pages of the report. And I’m sure that I would have received another subpoena from the assembly. They also did not deliberately choose to investigate communications that occurred between Lindsay Boylan in December 20. She first made these allegations about two weeks after she announced she was running for Manhattan borough president. And in that time period, there were communications between the Attorney General’s chief of staff, Abraham Khan and Miss Boylan’s top campaign consultant, Tripp Yang. There were a number of conversations about what Miss Boylan was saying and what was going on in the campaign. One of Ms Boylan’s top media consultants resigned when she made these allegations. Did the Attorney General’s investigators talk to all of those people, subpoena the records from the campaign in the same way that they have subpoenaed the executive chamber and my client for anything and everything having to do with sexual harassment with Lindsey Boylan?
Rita M. Glavin: (11:49)
The complainants needed to be scrutinized just as much as the governor and the chamber. And that didn’t happen here. The investigators credited Lindsey Boylan, despite the fact that they knew she had threatened a witness to get him to change his story. And he did. And one thing that has been missing through this is that there was a signal about seven or eight months before Miss Boylan made her tweets in December, a signal that she was out for some type of revenge against the governor’s office. You see, miss Boylan had ran in a primary against Congressman Jerry Nadler. And in March of 2020, when COVID started, the governor issued an executive order, which narrowed the timeframe for people to get petitions so they could get on the ballot.
Rita M. Glavin: (12:56)
Miss Boylan was very unhappy about this and felt that that had been directed at her. And she sent two threatening messages to members of the governor’s staff. One of them said, “Absolutely not helpful. Please relay that while we are okay, you see what the point is here. And I’ll find ways to respond. Life is long. And so is my memory and so are my resources.” Her second message, “Absolutely not helpful. Specific response to a tragedy, but please relay that while we are okay, I see what the point is here. And I will try to find ways to respond to the message. The future is coming after…” I will leave the expletive out.
Rita M. Glavin: (13:56)
Miss Boylan was unhappy that the governor wouldn’t support her in her campaign. She blamed the governor’s office and sent these threatening texts, promising retribution. And sure enough come December after two weeks after announcing her campaign, she did a series of tweets and talked about why she left the chamber. She was not honest about the circumstances of her departure. And so, three memos were released because a public figure running a political campaign was making statements, misleading the public about what had happened and why she left. And the chamber felt the duty to correct that record.
Rita M. Glavin: (14:43)
There were also witnesses that the Attorney General’s investigators interviewed that told them that Lindsey Boylan not to be trusted and that they did not find her credible, not just based on what had happened in the tweets, but based on their professional interactions with her when she worked in the chamber. They investigators didn’t include that in the report and they credited Miss Boylan wholesale.
Rita M. Glavin: (15:13)
What perhaps I think was most bothersome. And there was a lot, but out of interviewing 179 witnesses, the investigators made a choice not to include what a lot of people had to say and buried at the end at page 121 is a sentence that should scare everybody, scare everybody if you’re being accused of something, and this is all you get about what people have to say that’s good about you. Here’s what it said. It said a number of former and current executive chamber staff, particularly the senior staff, as well as state troopers with the protection detail denied having witnessed or experienced any conduct by the governor that could be characterized as sexual or otherwise inappropriate.
Rita M. Glavin: (16:20)
That sentence is buried at the end. And of the over 1,000 footnotes, why didn’t they cite the transcripts? Why didn’t they quote from those people? Did what those people have to say bear upon any of the allegations that they included? The governor deserved to have a fulsome and balanced report that laid it all out. But the report doesn’t identify who the witnesses were, what they said, and what they were asked.
Rita M. Glavin: (16:55)
I want to talk also about trooper number one. The report does corroborate that the governor supported trooper one’s transfer to his detail to increase diversity among the detail members. Please read that portion of the report at page 35, because when you read the narrative of the report, it makes it sound as though he wanted this trooper on his detail to sexually harassed her. And that just was not true. There is another member of the state police that corroborated that the governor was very interested out of a detail of 60 troopers who were mostly white male to have diversity. The governor has great respect for trooper one, and he didn’t touch her in a sexual manner. None of his contact with trooper one, or for that matter, any of the troopers was meant in any way to be inappropriate. He does greet them. He will pat-
Rita M. Glavin: (18:03)
He does greet them. He will pat them on the back, he will pat them on the side when they’re opening the doors for him coming in and out of cars. On the elevator, the trooper stands in front of him. The Governor will tap the trooper on the back and say, “Hello.” Particularly as he’s walking out of the elevator. He has read what Trooper One had to say, and he feels very badly and he apologizes for anything that he did that caused her to feel that way, he is sorry.
Rita M. Glavin: (18:39)
With respect to Charlotte Bennett, the Governor addressed in detail in his video statement on August 3rd, it is important to know that any claim that he was grooming this young woman who is a sexual assault victim or [inaudible 00:19:00] of romantic interest in her could not be further from the truth. His experience with a very, very close family member who is about the same age as Charlotte Bennett, that provided crucial context to the conversations that he had with Ms. Bennett. The Governor testified in detail about this to the attorney General’s investigators, but they did not include his detailed testimony in the report. He has, and he continues to apologize to Ms. Bennett for anything that he said in the conversations that he had with her that made her feel the way that she did. He certainly did not mean that, and because of her experience and what he went through with someone very close to him, he in no way, shape or form wanted to hurt her.
Rita M. Glavin: (20:04)
There are now other series of allegations that were in the report and the media keeps saying, “11 women, 11 women.” And I watched CBS This Morning yesterday, and I thought it was actually a good interview of Ms. Commisso, I thought the interviewer was fair. But what was bothersome to me afterwards is they then had a round table discussion with two of the men sitting there and they just kept pointing to 11 women, and it was quite clear to me that they didn’t know what the actual claims were. And then it’s just gets repeated over and over again by the media, when they haven’t done their homework, rolled up the sleeves and learn the facts. That’s what journalists are supposed to do, not cast judgment and not give us their opinions.
Rita M. Glavin: (21:04)
Let’s talk about some of the other allegations. State Entity Employee Number Two, this is what the Attorney General’s report included as another form of sexual harassment by the governor. This event, this photo, the governor made a joke to the doctor in the hospital gown protected against COVID while she gave him a test. And he said in front of the whole world, “You make that gown look good.” That’s not sexual harassment. I don’t know why that was included in the Attorney General’s report, except to say it was to add another number and to make the Governor look bad.
Rita M. Glavin: (21:58)
There was also State Entity Employee Number One, and what she claimed is that she was at an event with the Governor and as her photo was being taken, and the Governor was standing between herself and her supervisor, she claims that the governor touched her butt at the public event while the photo was taken. No pictures from that event were included in the Attorney General’s report, and presumably this picture is there and we have a provided with that picture. If the Governor may have touched her rear end while he’s got his arm around the supervisor and this woman at a public event, he certainly did not mean to do it in a way that was sexual, he takes thousands of pictures.
Rita M. Glavin: (22:56)
And then it goes to another one of the women who have come forward, Ms. Limmiatis. She is not a State employee, she works for an energy company. The Governor was at a public event and he was working a rope line. There were dozens of people there, there were reporters. And she claims that as he went through the rope line, he touched the logo on her shirt, which was her energy company logo, as he was greeting her. The Governor did not mean to grope her, and certainly there were pictures from this event, those pictures haven’t been provided to me, and they were not part of the Attorney General’s report. But this particular instance to say that the governor would try to grope somebody working a rope line with cameras around, he certainly would never have intended to do that. And I don’t mean to take away from how this woman felt, but we do need to think about qualitatively what each of the women are saying and whether these are the types of things that are impeachable offenses.
Rita M. Glavin: (24:19)
There is another allegation, and it was by Ana Liss, and it’s on the report, it starts at page 82. And she talks about being at a party and that the Governor sought her out, he kissed her and then put his arm around her and took this photo, that’s the photo. And that photo is included in the report as evidence of some type of sexual harassment, because Ms. Liss then later talks about how she was uncomfortable, and she thought about this photo later on, that the governor had put his arm around her. And then she talked about her experience working with him. And the Governor has said, “Yes, he has called people darling and sweetheart.” He has had to change with the times. Yes, he hugs and he kisses his staffers. He has had to change with the times. And his, he said on August 3rd after the Attorney General’s report, that he slips and he does, but this does not rise to the level of sexual harassment or groping or fondling as has been portrayed in the press during the feeding frenzy of the last eight days.
Rita M. Glavin: (25:46)
There is then Alyssa McGrath, and this photo was included as part of the Attorney General’s report. It’s a photo of the Governor at a holiday party, and Ms. McGrath is wearing the black and Brittany Commisso is on the other side. And how the report portrayed this photograph is that the Governor put his hands around the rib cage just below their breasts as though there was something wrong with this photo. And I just simply ask everybody to look at this, is this something that you think is evidence of improper behavior by the Governor? Yes, he joked with Ms. Commisso and Ms. McGrath. Yes, he would hug them as he does many of his staffers and yes, he would give them a kiss. The governor has said over and over, he did not grope, he did not fondle, he understood his relationship with them to actually be what’s reflected in the photo, that they liked him very much, and he did not have a sense that either of them was uncomfortable with him.
Rita M. Glavin: (27:12)
There’s also been made much about the selfie picture with Ms. Commisso. I was asked about it yesterday on CNN by Erica Hill. What Ms. Commisso alleged is that on December 31st, 2019, New year’s Eve, she was at the mansion and she claims that the Governor wanted to take a selfie. What the Governor told the Attorney General’s Office is that, “No.” He actually remembers this and he said, “Ms. Commisso asked me if she could take a selfie with me.” And what Ms. Commisso is now saying is that when she took the selfie that the Governor put his hand on her butt and rubbed it for at least five seconds, that’s what she testified to. And that she was so nervous that it became blurry, the pictures, and she had to delete them. And so they moved and sat on a couch and then took this selfie instead. I’m not going to say any more than that. For me as a lawyer, as a former prosecutor and a former defense lawyer, I often use pictures as exhibits at trial. The Governor did not violate Brittany Commisso. He did not rub her rear end before this photo. She asked for a selfie with him. I think that this picture demonstrates a comfort level and someone who wanted a selfie with the Governor. And she sent the selfie to her friend, and there is a footnote, her friend, her very good friend, Alyssa McGrath, who actually said, “I’m so jealous of the picture.”
Rita M. Glavin: (29:20)
Then we go to this photograph, and this is also included amongst one of the 11. This was at a wedding. The Governor officiated the wedding of one of his staffers. And at the wedding he greeted this young woman, Anna Ruch. And he did put his hands around her face. He asked her if he could give her a kiss, that is something that he does, and she clearly was not comfortable with that. He understands that, he particularly understand it when he saw this photo on the front page of the New York Times. This does not rise to the level of sexual harassment that we impeach a sitting Governor.
Rita M. Glavin: (30:13)
I want to talk about Kaitlin. She met the Governor at a reception that was sponsored or hosted by a lobbying firm. She was recommended, he was told she was a superstar. He met her at the reception, and in front of dozens of people he joked with her, he did a dance pose. He met no disrespect. He was thinking, you can say whether it’s right, whether it’s wrong, that this was fun and that he was trying to be playful. And as we now know, it doesn’t always work out that way, and the Governor knows that and appreciates that. And during the time that she worked for him, he did banter with her, he did ask her about her life. That is something he routinely does with his staff members. “What’s going on? Are you married? Do you have kids? Are you dating anybody?” That’s something Senator Schumer asks his staff. It’s normal when you’re working closely with people in political environments that are high pressure to learn about their lives. He did not mean to make her feel uncomfortable.
Rita M. Glavin: (31:41)
He does the same thing with the men that work with him. He hugs them, he kisses them, and a number of them testified to that. But the investigators didn’t include any of that in the report. And he asked the man about their personal lives, they didn’t include any of that in the report.
Rita M. Glavin: (32:06)
What happened was that from day one, it became building a case against Governor Andrew Cuomo. They started with a presumption that he had done some terrible things, and it went from there. It didn’t become scrutinizing each one of the allegations, talking to everybody about what the environment was in Chamber. And the Governor has said, and has no doubt, that working for him is tough. I think people will say that going back to his time at HUD, In political environments dealing with serious issues, you want to get the best out of people. Tempers can flare, there’s high demands on getting it right. But what happened here was this investigation took every possible negative thing that could be said about the Governor and they put it in, and they disregarded the positive, the things that would balance it and the things that would undermined what some people were saying about the Governor, and that’s not right.
Rita M. Glavin: (33:32)
The two investigators that were charged with this report, certainly, and it comes through when you read it, they brought their own biases and a predisposition to this investigation and in the manner in which the report was written. Mr. Kim is a long time former federal prosecutor in the Southern District, my old office. Mr. Kim had pursued and supervised criminal investigations against the Governor for years at that office. And he actually personally interviewed him, personally interviewed Governor Cuomo in one of the criminal investigations. Of course, he brought to the table certain views about the Governor, feelings he had about how the Chamber operated. How could he not? And with respect to Ms. Clark, as an attorney, her practice is focused on bringing sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits on behalf of employees. Of course, that colored how she viewed what complainants told her versus what other people told her, she could not. That was the lens they brought to the case, and those backgrounds certainly influenced how they went about the investigation and drafted this report. But what we do know is that report got facts wrong, it omitted favorable evidence that didn’t support the narrative. There were 179 witness interviews, and they only transcribed, where we get the actual Q&A’s, 41. So what did the other 138 say, because there are not 179 people mentioned in that report. So here’s where we are because of what has happened since August 3rd, with the press conference and a report that there is no question in my mind was designed and meant to devastate Governor Cuomo and his chamber. And for the last eight days, it has been a pile on with people judging facts when they didn’t have all the facts.
Rita M. Glavin: (36:02)
… Facts, when they didn’t have all the facts. And as we sit here today, the investigators have not provided me, the lawyer for the governor, who he’s being asked to give a submission to the Assembly, a single transcript to allow him to respond. They haven’t even given him his own. They have not responded to my letter of last week, asking to get access to the evidence. And I’m willing to do it, under an agreement that protects confidentiality, this is commonly done in civil matters and in criminal matters. The Assembly Judiciary Committee and the Attorney General’s Office have not agreed to our requests for access to the evidence. And we’re being asked to make a submission on behalf of the governor of the state of New York by Friday, addressing the allegations. How are we going to be able to do that in a fair and meaningful way.
Rita M. Glavin: (37:07)
This hasn’t been, and it’s not going to be a fair process. And in fact, the governor has been given no process. I think that women, should be believed and they should be treated fairly. I also believe, that men should be believed and treated fairly. All people should be given that, and everybody should have a chance to respond, and everybody should be scrutinized with what they say by facts, context, and evidence. That hasn’t happened here. Our country has a rule of law, I believe in the rule of law, not mob mentality and not media mentality. The governor deserves to be treated fairly and that did not happen here. Thank you for listening and thank you for your time.
Rita M. Glavin: (38:24)
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (47:17)
Good morning. Let me begin by thanking Rita glazing for that powerful presentation. I’d like to address several issues today. First, I’ve always started by telling New Yorkers the facts before my opinion. So let’s start New York tough, with the truth. The attorney general did a report on complaints made against me by certain women for my conduct, the report said I sexually harassed 11 women. That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to. The reaction was outrage, it should have been. However, it was also false. My lawyers, as you just heard from Rita Glavin, have reviewed the report over the past several days and have already raised serious issues and flaws, that should concern all New Yorkers. Because when there is a bias or a lack of fairness in the justice system, it is a concern for everyone, not just those immediately affected.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (48:24)
The most serious allegations made against me, had no credible factual basis in the report. And there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and concluding sexual harassment. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that there are not 11 women who I truly offended, there are. And for that, I deeply, deeply apologize. I thought a hug and putting my arm around a staff person and while taking a picture was friendly, but she found it to be too forward. I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding, and I thought I was being nice, but she felt that it was too aggressive. I have slipped and called people, honey, sweetheart and darling. I meant it to be endearing, but women found it dated and offensive. I said on national TV, to a doctor wearing PPE and giving me a COVID nasal swab, “You make that gown look good.” I was joking, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it on national TV, but she found it disrespectful.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (49:48)
I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been too familiar with people. My sense of humor can be insensitive and off-putting. I do hug and kiss people casually, women and men, I have done it all my life. It’s who I’ve been since I can remember. In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn. There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate, and I should have, no excuses. The report, did bring to light a matter that I was not aware of and that I would like to address. A female trooper relayed a concern that she found disturbing, and so do I. Please let me provide some context. The governor’s trooper detail had about 65 troopers on it, but of the 65, only six women and nine Black troopers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (51:16)
I’m very proud of the diversity of my administration. It’s more diverse than any administration in history. And I’m very proud of the fact that I have more women in senior positions than any governor before me. The lack of diversity on the state police detail, was an ongoing disappointment for me. In many ways, the governor’s detail is the face of state government that people see. When I attend an event, people see the detail that’s with me. I was continuously trying to recruit more to diversify. On one occasion, I met two female troopers who were on duty at an event, both seemed competent and impressive. And I asked the state police to see if they were interested in joining. I often meet people, men and women, and if they show promise, I refer them to be interviewed. The state police handled the interviewing and the hiring. And one of the two troopers eventually joined the detail.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (52:28)
I got to know her over time and she’s a great professional. And I would sometimes banter with her when we were in the car. We spent a lot of time driving around the state. This female trooper was getting married and I made some jokes about the negative consequences of married life. I meant it to be humorous, she was offended and she was right. The trooper also said that in an elevator, I touched her back. And when I was walking past her in a doorway, I touched her stomach. Now, I don’t recall doing it, but if she said I did it, I believe her. At public events, troopers will often hold doors open or guard the doorways. When I walk past them, I often will give them a grip of the arm, a pat on the face, a touch on the stomach, a slap on the back. It’s my way of saying, I see you, I appreciate you and I thank you. I’m not comfortable just walking past and ignoring them. Of course, usually they are male troopers.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (53:55)
In this case, I don’t remember doing it at all. I didn’t do it consciously with the female troop-
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:03)
I didn’t do it consciously with the female trooper. I did not mean any sexual connotation. I did not mean any intimacy by it. I just wasn’t thinking. It was totally thoughtless, in the literal sense of the word, but it was also insensitive. It was embarrassing to her and it was disrespectful. It was a mistake, plain and simple. I have no other words to explain it. I want to personally apologize to her and her family. I have the greatest respect for her and for the New York State Police.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (54:46)
Now, obviously in a highly political matter like this, there are many agendas, and there are many motivations at play. If anyone thought otherwise, they would be naive and New Yorkers are not naive. But I want to thank the women who came forward with sincere complaints. It’s not easy to step forward, but you did an important service, and you taught me and you taught others an important lesson. Personal boundaries must be expanded and must be protected. I accept full responsibility.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (55:32)
Part of being New York tough is being New York smart. New York smart tells us that this situation and moment are not about the facts. It’s not about the truth. It’s not about thoughtful analysis. It’s not about how do we make the system better. This is about politics and our political system today is too often driven by the extremes. Rashness has replaced reasonableness. Loudness has replaced soundness. Twitter has become the public square for policy debate. There is an intelligent discussion to be had on gender-based actions, on generational and cultural behavioral differences, on setting higher standards and finding reasonable resolutions. But the political environment is too hot and it is too reactionary for that now, and it is unfortunate.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (56:50)
Now, you know me, I’m a New Yorker, born and bred. I am a fighter, and 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 demonizes behavior that is unsustainable for society. If I could communicate the facts through the frenzy, New Yorkers would understand. I believe that. But when I took my oath as governor, then it changed. I became a fighter, but I became a fighter for you, and it is your best interest that I must serve. This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen. That is how the political wind is blowing. It will consume government. It will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. It will brutalize people.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (58:17)
The state assembly yesterday outlined weeks of process that will then lead to months of litigation, time and money that government should spend managing COVID, guarding against the Delta variant, reopening upstate, fighting gun violence, and saving New York City. All that time would be wasted. This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation. Government really needs to function today. Government needs to perform. It is a matter of life and death, government operations, and wasting energy on distractions is the last thing that state government should be doing. And I cannot be the cause of that.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (59:18)
New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York, and I love you. And everything I have ever done has been motivated by that love. And I would never want to be unhelpful in any way. And I think that given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore that’s what I’ll do, because I work for you and doing the right thing, is doing the right thing for you. Because as we say, it’s not about me, it’s about we.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:00:08)
Kathy Hoechlin, my Lieutenant Governor, is smart and competent. This transition must be seamless. We have a lot going on. I’m very worried about the Delta variant. And so should you be, but she can come up to speed quickly. And my resignation will be effective in 14 days. To my team, Melissa DeRosa, Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, Stephanie Benton, Dana Carotenuto, Kelly Cummins, Rich Azzopardi, Howard Zucker, Rick Cotton, Janno Lieber, Jack Davies, and the hundreds of dedicated administration officials, I want to say this, thank you. Thank you. And be proud. We made New York State the progressive capital of the nation. No other state government accomplished more to help people, and that is what it’s all about. Just think about what we did. We passed marriage equality, creating a new civil right. Legalized love for the LGBTQ community, and we generated a force for change that swept the nation. We pass the SAFE Act years ago, the smartest gun safety law in the United States of America. And it banned the madness of assault weapons. We’ve saved countless lives with that law. $15 minimum wage, the highest minimum wage in the nation, lifting millions of families standard of living, putting more food on the table and clothes on their backs. And we led the nation in economic justice with that reform.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:01:52)
We have managed every emergency mother nature could throw at us: fires, floods, hurricanes, superstorms, and pandemics. We balanced the state budget and we got it done on time, more than any other administration, because government should work and perform. Free college tuition for struggling families. Nobody in this state will be denied their college dream because of their income. We have built new airports, rail, transit, roads, all across this state, faster and better than ever before. And more than any state in the nation, the most effective green economy program in the nation. We did more for black and latino families than any other administration. We did more for working families. We did more for our union brothers and sisters. We did more to battle racism and antisemitism.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:02:48)
Today so much of the politics is just noise, just static, and that’s why tune it out. What matters is actually improving people’s lives, and that’s what you did. You made this state a better state for the generations that follow, and that is undeniable, in arguable, and true, even in these ugly crazy times. I thank speaker, Carl Heastie, and leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins for their leadership.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:03:27)
And let me say this on a personal note, in many ways, I see the world through the eyes of my daughters, Cara, Mariah, and Michaela. They are 26 and 26 twins, and 23. And I have lived this experience with and through them. 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 and it hurt. I want my three jewels to know this. My greatest goal is for them to have a better future than the generations of women before them. It is still in many ways, a man’s world. It always has been. We have sexism that is culturalized and institutionalized. My daughters have more talent and natural gifts than I ever had. I want to make sure that society allows them to fly as high as their a wings will carry them. There should be no assumptions, no stereotypes, no limitations. I want them to know, from the bottom of my heart, that I never did, and I never would intentionally disrespect a woman, or treat any woman differently than I would want them treated. And that is the God’s honest truth.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:04)
Your dad made mistakes, and he apologized, and he learned from it, and that’s what life is all about. And I know the political process is flawed and I understand there’s cynicism, and distrust, and disappointment now, but don’t give it up, because government is still the best vehicle for making positive social change.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:05:35)
Lastly, I want to remind all New Yorkers of an important lesson and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and that’s what you new Yorkers did in battling COVID. The enemy landed in New York State. COVID launched the attack here. It came on planes from Europe, and we had no idea. It was an ambush, and it was up to New Yorkers to fight back. We were on our own and it was war. Nurses, doctors, essential workers became our frontline heroes. Hospitals became the battle grounds. Streets were still and sirens filled the cities silence. Trailers buried the bodies of our fallen brothers and sisters. But you refused to give up, and you fought back, and you won. Going from the highest infection rate in the nation, to one of the lowest. No one thought we could do it, but you did it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:06:57)
You led the nation and you showed the way forward, and how you did it is what’s most important. You did it together. Not as black New Yorkers or white New Yorkers. Not as LGBTQ New Yorkers, or straight New Yorkers, or Democrats or Republicans, or upstate or downstate, or Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, or Catholic New Yorkers, but as one community, one family, the family of New York. You overcame the naysayers, and the haters, and the fear, and the division, and you unified, and you rose, and you overcame, and you saved lives. And that was powerful in its effect. It was beautiful to see. And it was an honor to lead.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:07:48)
Please remember that lesson, hold it dear and hold it up high for this nation to see, because it is New York State at her finest, creating her legacy, fulfilling her destiny, giving life and animation to the Lady in the Harbor saying Excelsior, we can be better. We can reach higher. And proclaiming E pluribus unum. Out of many, one unity, community, love. That is our founding premise and our enduring promise, and that is the salvation of this nation that it so desperately needs to hear.
Governor Andrew Cuomo: (01:08:39)
Thank you for the honor of serving you. It has been the honor of my lifetime. God bless you.