UPDATED 2:35 PM PT – Friday, March 5, 2021
Senate Democrats appear to be in a tug-of-war over the allegations surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). On the one hand, multiple state senators and lawmakers have called on the governor to resign. Some even said they would support impeachment proceedings against Cuomo. Washington Democrats, however, have appeared to stay out of the controversy, but showed their support for an attorney general investigation into the accusations.
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One Democrat who came under the spotlight was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who led the charge for then-Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign after misconduct allegations surfaced in 2017. Eight women eventually came forward with stories of incidents involving the Minnesota senator.
In a series of statements, Gillibrand said the accusations against Cuomo were “serious and deeply concerning” and called for a full investigation, but not resignation. New York Democrats as a whole, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also held back on calling for Cuomo to step down.
I am with you Charlotte. We are with you. Always. https://t.co/4tobBxgJuh
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The lack of movement by senators has some questioning if the ‘Me Too’ movement has lost momentum. On Tuesday, even White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Joe Biden was waiting on the results of the investigation.
“The president believes, as I’ve noted, that every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard and treated with respect,” Psaki said. “There is an investigation, an independent investigation that is being overseen by the attorney general, which has subpoena power and we certainly support that moving forward.”
Few Democrat governors have spoken out on the issue and only a handful have said they support the investigation. One anonymous Democrat senator reportedly said the party has been “reluctant to publicly call on Cuomo to resign, despite having no tolerance for sexual harassment allegations, because it’s a controversy in another state.”
On Thursday, Buffalo Democrat Jeanne Vinal suggested the accusations against Cuomo were politically motivated. She said calling for resignations is like jumping on the bandwagon against the Central Park Five, which is a reference to five teens who were wrongfully convicted of rape in the late 1980s.
Democrats have long been accused of holding a double standard when it comes to allegations against their own as accusations were made against Joe Biden ahead of the election. Critics compared the lack of interest in Biden’s allegations to the energetic manner in which Democrats responded to accusations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
A recent Quinnipiac Poll said New York voters gave Andrew Cuomo a 45 percent approval rating, which is a 30 point drop since the peak of the pandemic. Around 40 percent of voters said they believe he should resign.