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Defiant Cuomo blames ‘rush to judgment’ in farewell speech

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation following claims of sexual harassment./AFP
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Aug 24, 2021 - 11:09 AM

NEW YORK — Outgoing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he had been the victim of a “political firecracker” as he made a defiant farewell address on his last day in office Monday after resigning over sexual harassment allegations.

In a pre-recorded speech, the once-powerful Democrat insisted an inquiry that found he sexually harassed multiple women, including staffers, had been designed to force him to quit.

“There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will out in time. Of that, I am confident,” said Cuomo, who hands over the reins of America’s fourth-most populous state to Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo — son of three-term governor Mario Cuomo — led New York for a decade, first winning election in 2010.

He shot to international fame last spring when he was widely praised for comforting Americans with daily, straight-talking televised briefings about the coronavirus pandemic.

His performances, which came as then-president Donald Trump sowed confusion with incoherent messages about the health crisis, even led to clamor among some Democrats for a presidential run.

But Cuomo’s stock started to slide late last year as he became engulfed in accusations that he covered up the true extent of Covid-19 deaths at nursing homes.

Several women then came forward this year alleging that the 63-year-old had behaved inappropriately towards them.

The accusations culminated in an explosive report by state Attorney General Letitia James released earlier this month that said he sexually harassed 11 women, including by engaging in unwanted touching.

Cuomo strenuously denied the allegations and initially rejected calls to quit, including from President Joe Biden.

De Blasio parting shot 

But as an impeachment investigation by state lawmakers gathered steam, Cuomo announced on August 10 that he was resigning and would step down two weeks later.

In his goodbye address, he said a “rush to judgment” had caused a media “frenzy” that was not “right, fair, or sustainable.”

He also touted some of his achievements, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York in 2011 and an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in December 2019.

“No governor in the nation has passed more progressive measures than I have,” he said.

Cuomo, who had coveted a fourth term to surpass his father, thanked voters for “the honor of serving” them.

“I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that every day I worked my hardest. I gave it my all and I tried my best to deliver for you. And that is the God’s honest truth,” he said.

Cuomo also couldn’t resist a final dig at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom he repeatedly clashed.

He said de Blasio’s likely successor in elections in November, Eric Adams, would bring “a new philosophy and competence to the position” that would give Big Apple residents “hope for the future.”

Hochul, also a Democrat, will become New York’s first woman governor when she takes the oath of office in the state capital Albany in the first few minutes of Tuesday.

Cuomo said he believed she would “step up to the challenge” as he wished her success.

As speculation swirled about what Cuomo might do next, his top aide said he was “exploring a number of options, but has no interest in running for office again.”

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