Cuomo says 'political firecracker' blew up his governorship

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepared to close out his decade-plus tenure as New York's governor, he portrayed himself as a victim of a "media frenzy."

Andrew Cuomo defended his record over a decade as governor and portrayed himself as the victim of a "media frenzy" Monday as he prepared for a midnight power transfer that will make Kathy Hochul the first woman to be governor of New York.

Two weeks ago, he announced he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment trial over sexual harassment allegations and other scandals. Cuomo has said his resignation is effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday. 

His office released a pre-recorded farewell address at noon in which Cuomo boasted of making government effective in his years in office, heralded his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and criticized the narrative surrounding the harassment allegations.

"I understand that there are moments of intense political pressure and media frenzy that cause a rush to judgment. But that is not right. It's not fair or sustainable. Facts still matter. A firecracker can start a stampede but at one point everyone looks around and says, 'Why are we running?' The truth is ultimately always revealed," Cuomo said. "The attorney general's report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic. And it worked. There was a political and media stampede. But the truth will out in time. Of that I am confident."

The governor then suggested that although he wishes he could fight the accusations he chose to step aside in service to New Yorkers. 

"Now there are moments in life that test our character, that ask us, are we the person we believe we are? Or are we the person we try to be at our best?" Cuomo said. "You know me. I am a fighter and my instinct is to fight this because it is unfair and unjust in my mind. But you also know that I love New York and I serve you."

The governor said the allegations must still be "scrutinized and vetted" but not with him in office.

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"Prolonging this situation could only cause governmental paralysis and that is just not an option for you and not an option for the state, especially now," Cuomo said. "There is real work to be done and it will require government to function at the highest level."

A number of women, many of them members of Cuomo's administration, have accused him of various improprieties, from unwanted sexual advances to groping. 

With The Associated Press.

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