Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Image Credit: AP

Facing impeachment by the state legislature in Albany over accusations of multiple accusations of sexual harassment, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned on Tuesday, marking a remarkable fall from grace for a political scion who had been the voice of reason for many Americans during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

His resignation ends a troubling chapter for the governor, likely dealing a terminal blow to any hopes he may have harboured in seeking the Democratic party’s nomination for the Oval Office in a future presidential race.

But his resignation too is far more significant than merely marking the end of a career in politics in New York and the Eastern seaboard, it also sends a loud and clear message that misogynous behaviour will not be tolerated nor does it any have place in American politics — a key principle undermined during the years of the Trump presidency.

A collective sigh of relief

For Democrats, there is now a collective sigh of relief in that they escape the prospect of a long and dirty impeachment process — and only one Governor of New York has been previously impeached, back in 1913.

Cuomo’s resignation also allows the party to publicly claim that they will neither brook nor tolerate any acts of harassment against women, and that the principles of the #MeToo movement are fully endorsed by its leadership. For women across America, this is certainly a welcome restatement of the obvious.

Cuomo’s resignation comes a week after a blistering state attorney general’s report alleging that he had sexually harassed multiple women pushed New York legislators to expedite impeachment proceedings against him. That would have dragged this affair out for months.

In the 165-page report released by the state’s Attorney General Letitia James, Cuomo is accused of violating state and federal law by harassing 11 women and using the power of his office to retaliate against one. Even President Joe Biden had said he should step aside.

But Cuomo, whose father was a long-standing governor of New York, is facing legal and criminal jeopardy over the sexual harassment claims — and over his administration’s response to Covid-19. While publicly he was urging calm, the state’s judiciary committee has hired lawyers to probe claims his administration intentionally undercounted coronavirus deaths in nursing homes and misused state resources on his book about leadership during the pandemic.

Those issues will be addressed in the fullness of time. For now, though, his resignation is the right move and provides vindication for his accusers.