Cuomo closes vaccine site tour to press, avoiding questions on allegations as top Dems call for resignation
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had cameras on hand as he toured a coronavirus vaccination site at New York City’s Javits Center on Monday, but the event was closed to reporters, allowing him to avoid questions after he delivered an address touting the new site’s success.
Cuomo has been embroiled in dual scandals involving nursing home deaths and sexual harassment. With new details coming out about both in recent days, a growing number of officials in his own party have called for him to step down.
“Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement Sunday. “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign.”
Stewart-Cousins had said Thursday — when three women had already come forward with allegations against Cuomo — that if any more people came out with allegations “I think it would be time to resign.” Since then, allegations from two more women came out via reports in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
Karen Hinton, a former press aide to Cuomo, told The Washington Post that in 2000 Cuomo – then Bill Clinton’s secretary of housing and urban development – invited her into a “dimly lit” hotel room and embraced her but she pulled away and left. Another former Cuomo aide, Ana Liss, told The Wall Street Journal that the governor touched her inappropriately, kissed her hand, and asked questions about her private life. She said Cuomo made her feel like “just a skirt.”
Stewart-Cousins is among 37 members of the State Assembly and Senate Fox News identified as openly calling for Cuomo’s resignation. Another 10 have called for his impeachment.
Meanwhile, Cuomo’s office has pushed back against the latest reports.
“This did not happen,” Cuomo’s communications director Peter Ajemian said about Hinton’s allegations, calling her “a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago.”
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi downplayed the allegations from Liss in a statement to Fox News.
“Reporters and photographers have covered the governor for 14 years watching him kiss men and women and posing for pictures,” he said. “At the public open house mansion reception there are hundreds of people and he poses for hundreds of pictures. That’s what people in politics do.”
Meanwhile, a Thursday New York Times report on the nursing home scandal said that senior Cuomo aides removed information from a state report in June 2020 that revealed that more than 9,000 nursing home residents had died.
Cuomo avoided discussing these matters during his Monday appearance, instead boasting that the new vaccination site at the Javits Center “did more vaccinations than any place in the United States of America” over the weekend.
Azzopardi tweeted that the governor will take questions from reporters later in the week.
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.