New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has again insisted he will not resign while allegations of his sexual misconduct are investigated, pushing back against a chorus of fellow Democrats, including more than a dozen US representatives, who have said he should step down.
US senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jerry Nadler and several other Democratic congress members from New York, called for Mr Cuomo to resign on Friday.
Seven women, most of them former aides, have accused the governor of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwelcome flirtatious behaviour at work to groping.
The seventh accuser came forward on Friday. Reporter Jessica Bakeman, writing for New York magazine, said Mr Cuomo had often put his hands on her, including one time when taking a picture with her at a 2014 holiday party when she said he remarked, “I’m sorry. Am I making you uncomfortable? I thought we were going steady.”
In a call with reporters, Mr Cuomo, 63, repeated his denial of the allegations and said it was “reckless and dangerous” for politicians to ask him to resign before they had all the facts.
“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.
The new calls for Mr Cuomo to resign came a day after the state legislature announced it would open an impeachment investigation into the allegations. That will run parallel to an investigation led by the office the New York State Attorney-General Letitia James.
Again on Friday, Mr Cuomo urged the public to wait for the results of these investigations before passing judgment.
“Wait for the facts. An opinion without facts is irresponsible,” he said.
When asked on Friday if he ever had consensual romantic relationships with any of the women, Mr Cuomo responded by saying only that he never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, and was sorry if he did.
In a joint statement on Friday, the two US Senators from New York, Mr Schumer and Ms Gillibrand – both Democrats – became the latest and most high-profile national politicians to call on Mr Cuomo to resign.
“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,” the statement said.
The influx of resignation calls from the senators and at least 16 of the 27 members of New York’s US congressional delegation have cast a long shadow over the political future of the high-profile Democratic figure, who gained national prominence for his leadership during the peak of his state’s COVID-19 crisis.