Will Melissa DeRosa turn against Andrew Cuomo? Top aide resigns ahead of possible impeachment
As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces the prospect of impeachment, it appears he is losing the trust of those closest to him. Late on Sunday, August 8, Cuomo's top aid Melissa DeRosa announced her resignation, leaving the governor without a key defender during a challenging period for his career. The news comes just a day before an assembly committee will meet to discuss the procedure for impeachment, which the embattled governor has fought against.
Joining the scores of Democrats and Republicans asking Cuomo to step down, President Joe Biden also called on Cuomo to step aside on August 3. Before Biden, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stwart-Cousins said Cuomo should resign "for the good of the state". Despite the public pressure from within his own party, the Governor has been defiant. On August 4, he shared a montage on Twitter of him kissing and touching multiple people.
Amidst the scandal, the Governor has been holed up at the Executive Mansion since early August, He seems to have little viable defence left after Attorney General Letitia James released a report alleging he harassed 11 women. Adding to his woes, former aide Brittany Commisso went public with her allegations. With the pressure mounting, the Governor has now lost the support of DeRosa, who has been by his side for months.
Will DeRosa turn on Cuomo?
DeRosa did not offer much information about her resignation. In a statement, she said, "Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues on behalf of our state." She did not give a specific reason for her resignation, coming nearly a decade after she first joined Cuomo.
Since 2013, DeRosa has been working for Cuomo and was given the title of secretary to the governor in 2017. She is widely seen as the most recognizable face in his administration and has fiercely defended Cuomo from public criticism in the past. As The Associated Press (AP) reported, "She appeared by his side in most of his news briefings and often fielded policy questions from reporters when the governor didn’t know enough details to answer." Her presence during the Cuomo Covid-19 briefings led to profiles in outlets such as ELLE and The New York Times.
In fact, DeRosa is so central to the Cuomo administration, her name was mentioned 187 times in the AG's report on sexual harassment. With that kind of past, it is unclear if DeRosa will turn on the Governor just yet, but it could be possible. The AG's report indicated there was some tension between the two earlier. Reportedly, she was so upset with the way Cuomo had handled a conversation with one of his accusers, she angrily got out of his car when it stopped at a traffic light. It's unclear if DeRosa is still angry enough to speak out against Cuomo, but judging by her resignation statement, it may not be the case.
Rather than turn on Cuomo, DeRosa could just wait for the impeachment saga to play out. By all indications, the New York state assembly has enough votes in both houses to impeach Cuomo, with bipartisan support. Despite that threat, the Governor has no plans to step aside without a fight. "My sense is from what I’m hearing is he’s still looking for ways to fight this and get his side of the story out,” state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told AP.