Jay Jacobs says he believes the women who have come forward to accuse Gov. Cuomo of misconduct but wants the investigation to play out. But one Democratic senator suggests Cuomo has already lost his ability to govern.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for patience with the investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, while also appearing to issue a peremptory declaration that the probe would not lead to his resignation. On Wednesday evening, the state Democratic party chair indicated that the outcome of the inquiry was less certain than that.
“I’m not here to defend the governor or the allegations against the governor in any detail or in any way. I think these are serious and disturbing allegations. They’re very upsetting. We have to see to it that we deal with them in an appropriate fashion,” Jay Jacobs told WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show.
“Everybody agrees these are very serious allegations and they need a full and independent investigation. We are not going to sweep this under the rug and if there’s been real and established I’ll call it malfeasance in office, then the governor is going to have to be held accountable for it.”
Jacobs said the attorney general’s probe “won’t take an unreasonably long period of time” so there is no need to rush or ignore that process. He also said he found the governor’s accusers credible. “I start off with an allegation like that, like the ones that we’re hearing, I generally start off believing what people say. But I also understand that you have to have an appropriate investigation and take a look at the context and both perspectives of what happened. That’s the only fair thing to do. But most certainly I take them seriously and I believe the ladies and what they have said.”
The focus over the past week has been on the accusations that the governor kissed and harassed one employee, made what appeared to be unwanted advances on another worker and touched a third woman inappropriately at a social event. Cuomo, however, faces broader criticisms over his behavior toward lawmakers, workers and journalists who felt bullied and threatened by him. He also faces investigations of his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 crisis and lack of transparency about the death toll at those facilities.
For State Sen. Jessica Ramos, those concerns are part of a larger reckoning over Cuomo’s impact on the state, especially during the pandemic.
“I’ve been feeling really embarrassed as a New Yorker to see our governor’s behavior displayed on the TV in this way. It’s just as disingenuous as the press junkets and CNN appearance he used to do at the peak of the pandemic claiming to do a great job when we know that the report card shows a very different story,” the Queens Democrat said. “We’ve lost 47,000 loved ones, 744,000 New Yorkers are unemployed, a third of our small businesses in New York have closed their doors and likely are gone forever, 200,000 folks here in the city are on the verge of eviction. There is nothing for us to sing victory about. There is nothing for us to pat ourselves on the back.”
“All I ask—all I ask—is if you learn any lesson from this ordeal that is it reflected in much more collegial behavior and relationship building with his colleagues in government and that he treats people with respect.”
At his press conference earlier in the day, Cuomo stressed the importance of waiting for the facts to be in. Ramos detected a double standard.
“I’m old enough to remember him calling for Eliot Spitzer and Vito Lopez to resign without any criminality being alleged at the time. I remember during the Brett Kavanagh Supreme Court confirmation hearing the governor asking for a lie detector test. And so I’m very much against the governor creating this set of standards for some men but somehow not him.”
That raises the question of which is the proper standard: to wait for the evidence to be weighed or press for immediate resignation, as Ramos and a slowly growing number of elected Democrats have.
“I’m a big believer in due process, especially when it comes to the law and any possible criminality in these actions,” she said. “Nevertheless, one thing is the court of law and one thing is the court of opinion and to me what is clear here is his actions prevent us from going forward in a way that is actually responsive to the people’s work at this time.”
Hear the conversations or the full show below: