Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York is the latest in a long series of politicians who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. Nearly all have faced calls for their resignation, and some have heeded them while others have steadfastly refused to step down.
What’s the difference between those who stay in power and those who don’t? Party affiliation, for one thing: In recent years, Democratic leaders have generally abandoned those in the party who have been accused of assault or harassment, usually (but not always) leading them to step down and be replaced by another Democrat. Republicans, who have not always faced the same pressure from party leaders, have more typically dug in their heels and stayed put.
That makes Mr. Cuomo’s case all the more unusual: He has made clear he has no plans to willingly leave office. But not since President Bill Clinton has there been such an expansive — and public — investigation of a high-profile politician into allegations of sexual misconduct.
“All this discussion isn’t based merely on press reports, but on a careful and really extensive investigation and legal analysis,” said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center. “Some politicians have exploited that sort of inherent uncertainty. They have learned the lesson that if you don’t step down, nobody is going to make you.”
This time could be different. If Mr. Cuomo does not resign, he could face impeachment proceedings from the State Legislature.
The list of political figures who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault is far too long for one article, but here is a look at some of the most recent high-profile allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
More than two dozen women have publicly accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Just weeks before the 2016 election, a recording from 2005 surfaced of Mr. Trump boasting in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women without their consent.
Mr. Trump acknowledged his remarks at the time, saying in a video: “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But he also dismissed the conversation as “locker room talk” and later baselessly questioned the authenticity of the recording.
Despite widespread outrage from Democrats and women’s groups, Mr. Trump was not punished for his remarks at the ballot box — more white female voters chose him over Hillary Clinton.
Later, in 2019, the writer E. Jean Carroll accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a department store in New York City. He denied the allegation, and she sued him for defamation, a case in which he carried out the highly unusual legal move of bringing in the Justice Department to defend him.
In 2017, Leeann Tweeden, a comedian and sports broadcaster, accused Mr. Franken, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal and of groping her for a photo while she slept during a 2006 comedy tour through the Middle East. Mr. Franken apologized, but said he had a different memory of the time.
“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter,” he wrote in a statement. “There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate.”
Several weeks later, amid calls for his resignation, Mr. Franken stepped down.
In late 2017, four women, and then a fifth, said that Roy S. Moore, at the time a Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, had made sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One woman accused Mr. Moore of forcing her into a sexual encounter when she was 14, and multiple women accused him of sexual assault.
Several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader at the time, urged Mr. Moore to drop out of the race, but he denied all allegations and said they were part of a conspiracy to keep him out of office. President Trump endorsed Mr. Moore about a week before the election, which he lost to Doug Jones, who became the first Democrat since 1992 to win an Alabama Senate seat.
Understand the Scandals Challenging Gov. Cuomo’s Leadership
Multiple claims of sexual harassment. Several women, including current and former members of his administration, have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. He has refused to resign.
Results of an independent investigation. An independent inquiry, overseen by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, found that Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws. The report also found that he retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public.
Nursing home death controversy. The Cuomo administration is also under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, a scandal that deepened after a Times investigation found that aides rewrote a health department report to hide the real number.
Efforts to obscure the death toll. Interviews and unearthed documents revealed in April that aides repeatedly overruled state health officials in releasing the true nursing home death toll over a span of at least five months. Several senior health officials have resigned in response to the governor’s overall handling of the virus crisis, including the vaccine rollout.
Will Cuomo be impeached? On March 11, the State Assembly announced it would open an impeachment investigation. Democrats in both the State Legislature and in New York’s congressional delegation called on Mr. Cuomo to resign, with some saying he has lost the capacity to govern.
Soon after Mr. Trump nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, three women accused him of sexual assault or misconduct.
One of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, said that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was about 15 at a party in suburban Maryland in the early 1980s. During hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Blasey Ford said she had feared Mr. Kavanaugh would rape and accidentally kill her during the alleged assault.
Mr. Kavanaugh “unequivocally and categorically” denied the allegation and was confirmed to the court by one of the slimmest margins in American history.
Eric T. Schneiderman, then the New York State attorney general, resigned in 2018 just hours after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them. Two of the women who spoke to the magazine said they had been choked and hit repeatedly by Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat. Though he denied the allegations, several leaders in the party — including Mr. Cuomo — urged him to step down.
“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,” Mr. Cuomo said at the time.
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