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Facing new accusers, Cuomo's career in jeopardy in New York

As one observer put it, "It is starting to look as if the question will soon be not if but when New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be forced to resign."
Image: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Holds His Daily Coronavirus Briefing In Albany
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives a press briefing about the coronavirus crisis, on April 17, 2020, in Albany, N.Y.Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images file

When a politician confronts a growing number of accusers alleging sexual harassment, and he starts facing serious pressure from within his own party, that elected official's future is not bright. NBC News reported overnight on the intensifying scandal surrounding New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said Monday that her office is formally proceeding with an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which comes as a third accuser has alleged harassment. James said she proceeded with the investigation after she received the referral she needed from the governor's office.

Note, the announcement from the state attorney general's office came before the New York Times reported on new allegations from Anna Ruch, a former Obama administration official and member of the 2020 Biden campaign, who said she met the governor at a 2019 wedding, and felt "uncomfortable and embarrassed" when Cuomo placed his hands on her face and back before asking to kiss her.

"It's the act of impunity that strikes me," Ruch told the Times. "I didn't have a choice in that matter. I didn't have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. And that's what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough."

She is the third woman to accuse the Democratic governor of misconduct.

For her part, Letitia James is moving forward with plans for an independent investigation of the allegations -- investigators will be deputized, which in turn will give them subpoena power -- with the intention of preparing a public report on the findings.

All of this, of course, is separate from the investigation into allegations that Cuomo's administration also deliberately underreported coronavirus nursing-home deaths and hid data from state lawmakers.

The three-term governor, who's long maintained high approval ratings and cruised to landslide victories in 2010, 2014, and 2018, is suddenly short on friends. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who's never been a Cuomo ally, took aim at the governor yesterday, and last night, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) called for Cuomo to resign.

Up until recently, the question in political circles was whether the governor would win a fourth term. Now, the better question is whether Cuomo will be able to finish his third term.

Or as Karen Tumulty put it overnight, "It is starting to look as if the question will soon be not if but when New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be forced to resign."

Postscript: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on Fox News last night, and encouraged Democrats to "follow the Republican model" in response to the allegations surrounding Cuomo.

In reality, whether the South Carolina senator acknowledges this or not, a great many women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct and assault. Under "the Republican model" preferred by Graham, the GOP spent four years expressing indifference to the allegations.