NEW YORK (WPIX) – In his first interview since announcing his resignation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he believes he did the right thing, but he held onto the belief that he would have won an impeachment trial.
“I feel like I did the right thing. I did the right thing for the state,” Cuomo said of his resignation. “I’m not gonna drag the state through the mud, through a three-month, four-month impeachment, and then win, and have made the State Legislature and the state government look like a ship of fools, when everything I’ve done all my life was for the exact opposite. I’m not doing that. I feel good. I’m not a martyr. It’s just, I saw the options, option A, option B.”
Cuomo announced he would step down and hand over the reins of the executive office to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday, one week after a damning New York attorney general report detailed findings that the governor sexually harassed 11 women both in and out of state government. Hochul is expected to become the first woman governor of New York on Aug. 24.
During his resignation speech, Cuomo said he would leave office so that the government could focus on COVID-19 pandemic recovery without the distraction of a lengthy impeachment trial.
“New York tough means New York loving, and I love New York and I love you,” Cuomo had said. “I would never want to be unhelpful in any way, and I think given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore, that’s what I’ll do.”
However, Cuomo’s resignation was not a guarantee that impeachment was off the table.
Speculation swirled that New York lawmakers could move forward with articles of impeachment, not only related to sexual harassment allegations but also potentially for his administration’s handling of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and a scandal surrounding his pandemic book.
Ultimately, Heastie said in a statement that the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard from its lawyers that it cannot impeach and remove an elected official no longer in office. Nevertheless, Heastie said, the evidence the committee had gathered “could likely have resulted in articles of impeachment had he not resigned.”
Cuomo may have cleared that hurdle, however, he could still face criminal charges stemming from the attorney general’s report. Several district attorneys have requested materials pertinent to alleged incidents that happened in their jurisdictions. Additionally, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into a criminal complaint filed by one of Cuomo’s accusers, former aide Brittany Commisso.
Looking to the future, Cuomo told New York Magazine he’s unsure of what he will do next, including where he plans to live since his only residence after his split with Sandra Lee has been the Executive Mansion in Albany.
“Uh, I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” Cuomo said, when asked about his immediate plans, like where he was going to live. “I’m not disappearing. I have a voice, I have a perspective, and that’s not gonna change. And the details aren’t really that important to me to tell you the truth. You know? I’m a New Yorker, I’ve lived here, I’ve lived in Queens, I’ve lived in the city, I’ve lived upstate, I’ve lived everywhere, I came to Washington, so that’s … I don’t really care about that. I’ll figure that out. And I think I did the right thing.”
The Associated Press, Corey Crockett, Henry Rosoff, Shirley Chan contributed to this report.