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The most powerful men in politics. They’re often rewarded for having no shame.
That New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, hasn’t yet resigned his position puts his ego and gall in league with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, two other US politicians accused of wrongdoing but who would not back down.
Cuomo is a serial harasser, according to his own state attorney general, who investigated allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation that first surfaced last year and conducted a thorough investigation.
While New York Attorney General Letitia James did not recommend criminal legal action against Cuomo, she did identify a “deeply disturbing yet clear picture” of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and intimidation for those who came forward.
That’s not a one-off. It’s not a single accuser. It’s alleged harassment of current and former state employees along with people outside of government. It’s 11 credible claims.
“I believe women. And I believe these 11 women,” James said.
Cuomo denies the allegations. He answered two of them in a recorded speech, where he said one allegation was a case of mistaken intentions and another was simply false. He surely has an explanation for the other nine. He also tried to appear respectful of his accusers while at the same time denying their claims. Answering a charge in The New York Times that he kissed a woman at a party who didn’t want to be kissed, he showed pictures of himself kissing and touching all manner of people and argued kissing and touching are a sign of warmth he learned from his mother and father.
“There are hundreds if not thousands of photos of me using the exact same gesture. I do it with everyone. Black and White, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street,” the governor said.
Cuomo may genuinely believe himself to be innocent and the target of a political attack. Clinton may have believed the same when he was sued for harassment and later, when the Starr Report uncovered his infidelity in the White House. Trump has said he’s the target of multiple “witch hunts,” that odd phrase he’s latched onto and that he’s used when he’s been accused of harassment or worse by multiple women, which he’s denied.
In their cases, tribalism won.
Clinton refused to resign and emerged from impeachment proceedings stronger than ever. Democrats in the Senate protected him from removal. His approval rating actually rose.
Trump used allegations against Clinton to divert from allegations against him in 2016. Then he refused to drop out of the 2016 presidential election, shot the moon, and got elected after he talked about grabbing women by their genitals in leaked audio shortly before Election Day. He survived it all.
The playbook Clinton and Trump wrote, and which Cuomo appears to be following, goes something like this: deny, deflect, do not resign or back down.
Unlike, say, Sen. Al Franken, the former Minnesota senator who was pushed to resign at the height of the #MeToo reckoning in 2017, essentially ending his political career even though he claimed some of the allegations were not true.
The difference for Cuomo may be that his own party is turning on him, like Democrats did on Franken.
President Joe Biden called for Cuomo to step down following the report’s findings on Tuesday. Before him, it was New York’s Democratic power players, including both senators, and numerous members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the governor should resign.
New York City’s mayor has also called for impeachment proceedings against him.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is among the shameless politicians to face sexual misconduct allegations. He didn’t resign in 2018, however, until he was indicted on a felony computer tampering charge related to his campaign donor list. The charges against him – which the St. Louis circuit attorney said would not have been serious enough to merit jail time – were dropped. He admitted to an affair, but denied accusations of blackmail and sexual violence.
But even that isn’t the end of a shameless man’s career. Greitens is running for the US Senate in Missouri this year, with help from Trump allies like Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend.
It seems unlikely that Cuomo, at the top of New York politics for years, has another elected position in his career. A middle ground for him could be to serve out the remainder of his term and not run for reelection next fall. That’s assuming the state Legislature doesn’t impeach and remove him first.
Regardless, he asked for an investigation, perhaps hoping it would clear his name. It did the opposite.
Eviction moratorium, cont’d. The Biden administration announced a new targeted eviction moratorium to be in place in places of high Covid spread. They’ll impose it without the vote in Congress requested by the Supreme Court. Nearly 58% of the country (and growing) is listed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having “high” transmission. This could lead to an interesting ruling from the Court.
Related: CNN talked to this mother, one of potentially millions bracing for eviction.
Travel. The CDC added 16 international locations to its “very high” Covid-19 travel risk list.
Hospitalizations. For the first time since February, more than 50,000 Covid patients are hospitalized, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s triple the figure from one month ago.
Masks. Utah won’t require masks in schools. But it’s buying KN95 masks to give to children in them.
Mandates. Florida’s Broward County school district reverses its mask requirement after funding threat from the governor.
Tyson Foods one-ups the vaccine requirements. Most companies like Walmart that imposed requirements focused on their corporate staff, not their front line workers. Meat producer Tyson Foods, however, will require the vaccine of everyone, but still needs to negotiate with unions in some plants. Read more
Union opposition to vaccine requirements is an important emerging storyline, especially among some teacher unions, who fought returning to the classroom when there was no vaccine, and now are fighting a vaccine requirement. Hard to have it both ways!
Shooting outside the Pentagon. A police officer was killed in a shooting at a bus stop outside US military headquarters.