New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) directly addressed the sexual harassment allegations against him at a Wednesday press conference, saying he now realizes his behavior made people “uncomfortable” but that he never touched anyone inappropriately.
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” he said. “It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it.”
He will not heed calls to step down, he told reporters.
“I’m not going to resign,” he said.
However, he added, “I never touched anyone inappropriately,” contradicting claims by two of his three accusers, one of whom said he kissed her without her consent and one of whom said he put his hands on her lower back and around her face.
When pressed by reporters to address a photo of him with one of his accusers, Cuomo said he now understands she was uncomfortable but that this wasn’t out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
“You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people ― men, women,” he said, defending himself. “It is my usual and customary way of greeting. You know that because you’ve watched me for more years than we care to remember.”
That’s his way of reaching out to his constituents and making them feel comfortable, he added. However, he admitted that his intention by the gesture does not matter.
“It doesn’t matter my intent,” he said. “What matters is if anybody was offended by it.”
Anna Ruch, the accuser in the photo who met Cuomo at a wedding, said Cuomo called her “aggressive” when she removed his hands from her lower back, and said he asked her if he could kiss her.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting an investigation into the allegations against Cuomo, two of which were made by former staffers. Cuomo said Wednesday he is cooperating with the probe but urges people not to form an opinion on the matter until the investigation is complete.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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