Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered a farewell address to New York on Monday afternoon, hours before his resignation becomes official at midnight.
Cuomo, 63, won three terms as governor of the Empire State and served for a decade before a sexual misconduct scandal prompted republicans and fellow democrats nationwide to call for his resignation this summer.
A report on the accusations from state Attorney General Letitia James found Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and retaliated against a least one.
While the vast majority of Cuomo's remarks Monday dwelled on the state's accomplishments under his leadership, he could not escape addressing the scandal, maintaining his innocence and insisting that "the truth will come out in time."
Cuomo again referred to the attorney general's report as a political tool "designed" to spark outrage. He maintained his belief that fighting the allegations in an impeachment trial before the state legislature would result in "governmental paralysis" at a time when the state cannot afford to be distracted from its COVID recovery.
He then turned to his legacy, touting his administration's reforms in criminal justice, green energy, public transit, affordable housing, marriage equality, minimum wage and COVID, among others.
He warned of the dangers of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and urged New Yorkers to remember how the state succeeded in reducing the spread last year. He urged the legislature to put some COVID safety regulations in a law.
"Teachers must be vaccinated, for their protection and for our children's protection," he said. "Masks must be required in high-risk areas. Private businesses must mandate proof of vaccination for large gatherings."
Those measures cannot be enforced without a law, he said, noting "Political procrastination is COVID collaboration. We know the choice is between the politically contentious or the medically infectious. You decide which is worse."
Regarding Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul taking the oath of office tonight, Cuomo said he's confident she "will step up to the challenge and be a success" as the state's first female governor.
He added that Brooklyn Borough President and New York City democratic candidate for mayor Eric Adams "will become mayor of New York" and give New Yorkers "hope" moving forward.
Concluding his remarks, Cuomo thanked his team, his family and reaffirmed his belief in the people of the state, saying the New Yorkers choose "unity over division every time."
"We didn't get everything done that we wanted to or even everything that we should have done," he said. "But I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that every day I worked my hardest, I did my best."
The State Assembly suspended its impeachment investigation two weeks ago, following Cuomo's resignation announcement.
Aids for the governor say Cuomo is looking forward to having some time off before deciding what he will do next. He does not plan to run for public again.
Hochul plans to address the state tomorrow as governor for the first time.