Biden, Harris refuse to call for Cuomo to resign as governor's support collapses in New York, nationwide

Biden, Harris refuse to call for Cuomo to resign as governor's support collapses in New York, nationwide

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are not calling for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign even as a growing number of New York and national Democrats say it’s time for the scandal-ridden governor to step down. 

The president and vice president are not even going as far as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. In recent days the two high-ranking House members didn’t explicitly say Cuomo should resign but did imply that he should seriously consider it. 

This comes as Cuomo’s support evaporates among other Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the highest-ranking New Yorker in Congress, and among traditional allies in the New York state legislature. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris, then candidates, arrive to speak during a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris, then candidates, arrive to speak during a news conference at Alexis Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020. 

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Cuomo is accused, among other things, of sexually harassing multiple women and of covering up deaths of nursing home residents from the coronavirus. Many have attributed a significant chunk of New York’s coronavirus deaths to the state’s policy from early in the pandemic of discharging contagious patients into the group homes filled with highly vulnerable people.

But among Democratic politicians, it appears the sexual harassment allegations are the primary driver of calls for Cuomo to resign. 

“Confronting and overcoming the Covid crisis requires sure and steady leadership. We commend the brave actions of the individuals who have come forward with serious allegations of abuse and misconduct,” Sen. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement on Friday. 

They added: “Due to the multiple, credible sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, it is clear that Governor Cuomo has lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York. Governor Cuomo should resign.”

Still, as the number of public accusers against Cuomo continues to grow, the president and the vice president have not abandoned the governor. The White House did not respond to a query sent Sunday asking whether Biden and Harris believe Cuomo should resign. 

In this image taken from video from the Office of the N.Y. Governor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a somber Cuomo apologized, saying he "learned an important lesson" about his own behavior around women, but he said he intended to remain in office. 

In this image taken from video from the Office of the N.Y. Governor, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Albany, N.Y. Besieged by sexual harassment allegations, a somber Cuomo apologized, saying he “learned an important lesson” about his own behavior around women, but he said he intended to remain in office.  (Office of the NY Governor via AP)

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Biden himself was asked about Cuomo Sunday and repeated the White House’s earlier stance that people should wait for the result of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation, despite the fact several new accusers have come out in recent days. 

“I think the investigation is underway and we should see what it brings us,” Biden said Sunday. 

The embattled governor also has been called on to resign by at least 26 federal lawmakers and 135 New York state lawmakers. More than 85% of New York’s congressional delegation has called on Cuomo to resign. This includes establishment mainstay Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., among many others. 

“This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a joint statement with Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., another progressive representative from New York City. Some of the accusers against Cuomo have not gone so far as to call Cuomo’s behavior sexual harassment, but have emphasized that it was inappropriate and made them uncomfortable. 

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“The fact that this latest report was so recent is alarming, and it raises concerns about the present safety and well-being of the administration’s staff,” the pair continued. “[W]e believe these women, we believe the reporting, we believe the Attorney General, and we believe the fifty-five members of the New York States 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.” 

Pelosi and Jeffries are among other high-profile national Democrats to still not explicitly call on Cuomo to resign. But they each issued stern statements that called into question whether Cuomo can continue to do his job. 

On ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Pelosi reiterated that there is “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment in the House of Representatives but did not explicitly say Cuomo should step down.

“I think we should see the results of the investigation … but he may decide,” Pelosi responded. “And hopefully this result will be soon. What I’m saying is the governor should look inside his heart – he loves New York – to see if he can govern effectively. And that could be one of the considerations that he has.”

Jeffries, who is the highest-ranking New York Democrat in the House, meanwhile, also stopped short of directly saying Cuomo should resign. 

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“The allegations made against Governor Andrew Cuomo are very serious and deeply disturbing. Every woman who has come forward must be treated with dignity and respect throughout the entirety of this process,” he said. Jeffries also said that the decision of the state legislature to open an impeachment probe into Cuomo was “the right decision.”

“Under these extraordinary circumstances, the governor must seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively lead the state. No one is above the law,” he added. 

Cuomo has so far refused to resign. He’s simultaneously apologized for making some women uncomfortable while denying that he ever inappropriately touched a woman. 

“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,” he said in a press conference. Cuomo has continued to encourage people to wait for the result of the investigation by James before making a judgment on whether he should stay in office. 

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“There are often many motivations for making an allegation and that is why you need to know the facts before you make a decision,” he added, saying those who are calling for him to resign are being “reckless and dangerous.”

The governor and his office have also defended their nursing homes decision. Acting Counsel to the Governor Beth Garvey last week asserted that “no one … ever altered fatality data’ and that “the March 25 advisory was not a primary driver in deaths in nursing homes.”

Fox News’ Remy Numa and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.