In his first face-to-face encounter with journalists in months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday flatly denied he had done anything inappropriate with any of the women who have accused him of misconduct and harassment.
Speaking to reporters at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, the Democrat abandoned his past approach of expressing contrition for some past behavior while declining to address whether specific allegations were true.
“You were in those rooms. You know the truth. So can you tell the people of the state of New York yes or no? Did you do the things you were accused of?” asked New York Times reporter Jesse McKinley.
“To put it very simply, no.” Cuomo said.
“All the harassment, you deny all of that?” McKinley said.
“That’s right. Yes,” Cuomo said.
Several current and former state employees and other women have accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior.
Before Monday, Cuomo had repeatedly denied the allegations. He’s said “sorry” for making some people uncomfortable with comments or gestures he claimed were playful.
Asked if he would consider disciplining himself or resigning if the state attorney general, who is investigating the claims, reports he did harass women, Cuomo dismissed that possibility.
“The report can’t say anything different because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cuomo said.
This was the first time Cuomo has allowed a group of journalists to question him in person since sexual harassment allegations surfaced in December.
For months, citing COVID-19 precautions, he has taken questions only via telephone or internet conference calls — forums where his staff can control who asks questions and journalists often aren’t allowed to ask follow-up queries.
Cuomo has defied calls for his resignation from many of New York’s most influential Democrats, including most members of the state’s congressional delegation and a majority of state lawmakers.
He has urged the public to await the results of investigations being conducted by Attorney General Letitia James and the state Assembly’s judiciary committee, which is exploring whether there are grounds to impeach him.
James and the legislative committee are also investigating whether Cuomo used state resources for his book on pandemic leadership. And the Assembly committee and federal prosecutors are scrutinizing his administration’s months-long refusal to release how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19 in all.