NY governor should resign if probe confirms sexual harassment allegations: Biden

(Xinhua) 13:33, March 17, 2021

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in a frame grab from a video feed of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, being held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, as participants from across the country are hosted over video with the control center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the United States, Aug. 17, 2020. (2020 Democratic National Convention/POOL via Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday offered his strongest comments yet on the sexual harassment allegations against his longtime friend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying the governor should resign and may face a prosecution if the claims are confirmed by the ongoing investigation.

Speaking in an interview with ABC News scheduled to be aired on Wednesday, Biden said "yes" when asked whether Cuomo should quit his job if the investigation into multiple allegations of sexual misconducts against him confirms the claims of his current and former staffers. "I think he'd probably end up being prosecuted, too," Biden added.

"A woman should be presumed telling the truth and should not be scapegoated and become victimized by her coming forward," Biden said. "But there should be an investigation to determine whether what she says is true. That's what's going on now."

Biden himself faced a sexual assault allegation by Tara Reade, a former member of his staff who claimed that Biden, while a senator in 1993, groped and kissed her in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building.

"By the way, it may very well be that there could be a criminal prosecution attached to it, I just don't know," Biden said later in the interview. "It takes a lot of courage for a woman to come forward ... so the presumption is it should be taken seriously. And it should be investigated, and that's what's underway now."

Cuomo, a three-term New York governor who is seeking a fourth term in the 2022 mid-term elections, has faced allegations that he sexually harassed or inappropriately behaved in front of multiple women, including a current member of staff who claimed that she was groped by the governor in his executive mansion late last year.

The scandals have led to a groundswell of opposition to Cuomo within the Democratic Party, of which the governor, like Biden, is a member.

An independent investigation led by New York Attorney General Letitia James is underway, and one of Cuomo's accusers, Charlotte Bennett, spoke for four hours Monday with investigators, claiming a "sexually hostile work environment" around the governor.

A majority of New York's Democratic representatives in the U.S. House and more than 55 Democrats in the state legislature have demanded Cuomo's resignation. The state's two senators, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, joined suit last week to become the most prominent Democrats to urge the embattled governor to step down.

Asked to comment on calls from Democratic heavyweights in both chambers of Congress for Cuomo to resign, Biden said "that's a judgment for them to make."

The New York State Assembly has initiated an impeachment investigation into Cuomo to determine whether his conducts warrant a forcible removal from office.

Cuomo has repeatedly refused to resign and denied any wrongdoing.


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