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Cuomo won’t go: When politicians try to pressure an ally into resigning

Cuomo won’t go: When politicians try to pressure an ally into resigning


Cuomo won’t go: When politicians try to pressure an ally into resigning

In the summer of 1974, Barry Goldwater and Senate Republican leader Hugh Scott made a difficult trek to the White House.They told Richard Nixon, who was awash in Watergate, that once the House impeached him there would be no more than 15 senators voting for acquittal.Nixon resigned the presidency the next day, saying he “no longer had a strong enough political base in the Congress” to stay in office.It has always been a delicate dance, this effort by politicians to persuade one of their own to relinquish power. Friends suddenly turn into adversaries, asking someone who has devoted his life to climbing a steep ladder to voluntarily jump from that dizzying height.That is what Democrats are struggling to pull off with Andrew Cuomo, and at the moment it’s not working.The governor’s political support has collapsed with blinding speed. A majority of the state’s congressional delegation wants him gone—and that includes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; Kirsten Gillibrand, who was much quicker to speak out against Republicans accused of sexual harassment, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.President Biden demurred, saying in response to a shouted question that we should await the results of the state attorney general’s investigation. But Nancy Pelosi, on ABC’s “This Week,” put it this way: “The governor should look inside his heart—he loves New York—to see if he can govern effectively.” Translation: Of course he should quit, but I’m not going to get out ahead of him on this, he has to decide for himself.In Albany, Democrats who control the legislature have already launched an impeachment investigation in the Assembly. And in New York City, Bill de Blasio, who hates Cuomo with the heat of a thousand suns, says he should resign yesterday.Cuomo is paying the price for his imperious treatment of fellow Democrats, which has left him with precious few allies.MEDIA AND DEMOCRATS HAIL BIDEN AS ANTI-POVERTY CRUSADER AFTER HILL VICTORYParty leaders did pressure Al Franken into quitting the Senate in 2018, a move he now regrets. “The idea that anybody who accuses someone of something is always right—that’s not the case. That isn’t reality,” the former comedian told the New Yorker.Franken had disputed allegations of groping and unwanted touching from at least six women, the most prominent of which was captured in a photo of him either touching or pretending to touch the breasts of a sleeping woman on a USO flight. Those stories broke just as the #MeToo movement was gaining force.Franken took a parting shot at Donald Trump, noting the “irony” of his leaving while “a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office.” The former president denied many accusations of sexual harassment and assault, but that never sparked pressure from his own party. For that matter, a relative handful of Democrats suggested Bill Clinton resign over the Monica Lewinsky fiasco—some said during #MeToo they wished they had done so—but Clinton toughed it out and survived impeachment.In New York, one of Cuomo’s predecessors, Eliot Spitzer, resigned under intense pressure in 2008 after the Times revealed he had been “Client 9” of a prostitution ring.Almost three years ago, Eric Schneiderman resigned as state attorney general after the New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them. One of those demanding his departure was Cuomo, who said: “My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general.”Republicans enmeshed in such scandals have also faced pressure to bow out. Eric Greitens hung on as Missouri’s governor for four months, but finally quit over a sexual relationship with his former hairdresser and allegations that he’d taken an X-rated photo of her without permission.But Mark Sanford refused calls to resign as South Carolina governor in 2009 after the hiked the Appalachian trial—his cover story for a disappearance to spend time with his Argentinian mistress. Sanford survived an impeachment attempt, finished his term and later won a seat in Congress.The pressure on Cuomo comes from more than just Democrats. The media, after downplaying or ignoring the account of the first of his six accusers, are now filled with stories painting him as a tyrannical bully who threatened men and women alike. Many women have been quoted as saying he made inappropriate comments, often touched them, and that they were urged to dress a certain way. He is pounded in the press day after day.The New York Times editorial page, which endorsed Cuomo for a third term in 2018—while noting he was “at times bullying in his use of power”—has changed its tune.SUBSCRIBE TO HOWIE’S MEDIA BUZZMETER PODCAST, A RIFF OF THE DAY’S HOTTEST STORIES”At this point,” the paper says, “it is hard to see how Mr. Cuomo can continue to do the public’s important business without political allies or public confidence.”That subtle invitation to vacate the governor’s mansion doesn’t mean he’s likely to do so. Cuomo has an argument that he’s entitled to due process while the state probe plays out. He may hope to replicate the strategy of Clinton, his onetime boss, by dragging out the process until the momentum for his ouster dissipates. But his party, which hailed him as a national leader one year ago, now clearly views him as a liability.

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