Andrew Cuomo's fall from grace: From being admired for Covid-19 effort to being mired in sexual harassment claims

Cuomo's unrestrained emoting to the masses turned him into 'America's Governor' fighting for his people amid a deadly pandemic. He even published a book, 'American Crisis', which would 'provide leadership lessons,' but disaster would soon strike


                            Andrew Cuomo's fall from grace: From being admired for Covid-19 effort to being mired in sexual harassment claims
A billboard urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign is seen near downtown on March 2, 2021, in Albany, New York (Getty Images)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was a darling of the left just weeks ago. Prominent figures hailed him for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and compliance to what he called "fact-based guidelines," while his family anecdotes during press briefings made him even more popular among the masses.

In March 2020, Cuomo announced new restrictions on home visits for older and vulnerable people. Naming the rules 'Matilda's law' after his mother, the governor struck an emotional chord with New Yorkers as he urged them to care for one another.

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“Those three-word sentences can make all the difference,” he said at one daily briefing. “‘I miss you,' ‘I love you,' ‘I’m thinking of you,' ‘I wish I were there with you,' ‘I’m sorry you’re going through this.'” He later claimed it was “a very emotional moment for me, and it was reported that I shed a tear. I do know that I welled up with emotion that day.”

Cuomo's unrestrained emoting to the masses turned him into an American icon fighting for his people amid a deadly pandemic. His daily briefings were well-documented by the media and thrust the New Yorker into the national spotlight, with many pundits hailing him as then-President Donald J. Trump's next political nemesis. Major outlets showered praise on the governor: The New York Times called him the "politician of the moment," while CNN envisioned a "President Andrew Cuomo." In fact, even Fox News star Sean Hannity praised Cuomo on his radio talk show.

Actor Chris Rock joins New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Rosie Perez at a press conference where the two performers helped to promote coronavirus testing, social distancing, and the use of a face mask on May 28, 2020, in New York City. (Getty Images)

Last October, the governor went on to release a book – 'American Crisis' – which would “provide leadership lessons” to the masses from his experience as “the standard-bearer of the organized response the country desperately needed” amid the ongoing health crisis.

Fall from grace

A few months down the line, it's a whole different world for the veteran Democrat politician. Cuomo is under fire as the FBI and officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn investigate his handling of nursing homes and other pandemic-related actions. The probe is focusing on allegations that the governor held back data about nursing home deaths, in turn presenting a misleading tally to state lawmakers and sparking concerns of a possible cover-up. Meanwhile, angry state legislators from his own party are out to strip him of the emergency powers they granted him to respond to the pandemic. What's more? Cuomo is also mired in a slew of sexual harassment allegations from former aides.

Speaking to the New York Post, one of the state Democrats who signed a letter calling for Cuomo's emergency powers to be withdrawn said he received an unexpected call from the governor.

Ron Kim, a state assemblyman from Queens, New York City, told the newspaper how the call began with a period of silence, before Cuomo said, "Mr. Kim, are you an honorable man?” and proceeded to shout at him for no less than ten minutes. “You will be destroyed," Cuomo allegedly said, threatening Kim. “You will be finished."

New York Gov Andrew Cuomo gives a daily coronavirus press conference in front of media and National Guard members at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which is being turned into a hospital to help fight coronavirus cases on March 27, 2020, in New York City. (Getty Images)

After the story went viral, Cuomo responded by launching a no-holds-barred assault on Kim at his next press briefing, accusing the lawmaker of a series of unethical practices.

Nursing home cover-up

The nursing home controversy began to unravel after Attorney General Letitia James's report last month revealed the deaths of New York nursing home residents were notably higher than what had been recorded by the Cuomo administration. According to the report, residents who died after they were transferred to a hospital were inexplicably left off the official count. This was before another bombshell New York Post report exposed how Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, had admitted to fellow Democrats in a conference call that the administration had deliberately withheld the real nursing home death toll from state legislators. In the leaked conversation, DeRosa told her colleagues that "we froze" because Trump was using the deaths as a "giant political football."

The Post story opened up a can of worms for the Cuomo administration. A basic dispute over health guidelines and immunity gave way to a massive cover-up scandal. The state was forced to revise its official tally from 8,500 to more than 15,000 nursing home deaths, thereby seeming to destroy Cuomo's credibility after he often boasted about New York having among the best records in the country when it came to nursing home COVID-19 deaths.

Emergency Medical Service workers unload a patient out of their ambulance at the Cobble Hill Health Center on April 18, 2020, in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images)

“We made a mistake,” the governor said last month as he issued an apology of sorts. According to him, the administration's only mistake was to create a “void” that had “allowed misinformation and conspiracy” to spread.

However, the nursing home scandal would barely be the last of Cuomo's problems. Just weeks later, three women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the governor.

Sexual harassment claims

Cuomo declared on Wednesday that he would not resign as the Governor of New York despite the emergence of a string of sexual harassment allegations. The governor addressed the women who have accused him nearly a week after maintaining radio silence on the matter. He claimed he had no idea he was upsetting the women he spoke to, one of them being former aide Charlotte Bennett, who has alleged her former boss asked her inappropriate questions and his behavior made her feel like he wanted to sleep with her. 

“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it,” Cuomo said.

Meanwhile, the governor has also been accused by Lindsey Boylan, another aide, of kissing her and asking her to play strip poker with him. “I want you to know this from me directly, I never touched anyone inappropriately,” Cuomo insisted.

Demonstrators call on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign at a rally on March 2, 2021, in New York City. (Getty Images)

Anna Ruch, a third accuser, has claimed Cuomo tried to kiss her at the 2019 wedding of top gubernatorial aide Gareth Rhodes. A picture later emerged showing the governor touching her face, but he responded by saying kissing and touching people were just his ways of greeting people.

“You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people. It is my usual and customary way of greeting,” Cuomo declared. “However, what I also understand is it doesn’t matter … What matters is if anybody was offended, if they were hurt by it, I apologize. If they feel pain, I did not intend it.”

As of now, the governor has asked people to not judge him until the attorney general completes her investigation into the allegations. Despite the outrage, Andrew Cuomo has no intention of giving up his office. “I’m not going to resign. I work for the people of the state of New York,” he said.

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