New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he will not resign and asked New Yorkers to wait to pass judgment on him until the state attorney general releases a final report on the sexual harassment allegations against him.
During his first live public briefing in 10 days — a rare drought in the past year — the governor apologized to his three accusers for the second time and again vowed to "fully" cooperate with the state's inquiry.
"I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. "It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it."
The governor added that he "never touched anyone inappropriately" and that he did not know at the time that he was making people feel uncomfortable.
"I certainly never ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain. That is the last thing I would ever want to do. I've learned an important lesson. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for whatever pain I caused anyone, I never intended it, and I will be the better for this experience," he said before taking questions from reporters.
The first question asked was regarding Cuomo's third accuser, Anna Ruch, who pointed the New York Times to a photo of Cuomo holding her face in his hands at a 2019 wedding reception. Ruch told the Times that she had only just met Gov. Cuomo there and he put his hand on her lower back. When she removed the governor's hand, he touched her face.
She alleged that he then asked — loud enough for a friend to hear — if he could kiss her. She said he kissed her cheek as she turned away.
"You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people," Cuomo said of his hands-on approach. "It is my usual and customary way of greeting. It was my father's way of greeting people — you're the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable, you reach out to them.
"I also understand it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter my intent. What matters is if anybody was offended by it. If they were offended by it, it was wrong."
The governor's Wednesday briefing comes after state legislators agreed to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers, granted last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The repeal could go into effect as early as Friday.
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