Things are going to get awkward at the White House following the revelation that the sexual harassment claims against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been confirmed (at least as far as the investigation by the Attorney General is concerned). Cuomo has been a stalwart ally of Joe Biden, with the president even calling him the “gold standard” last year despite heading the state with the second-worst pandemic response to date.
But it’s another comment that Joe Biden made that may have sealed Cuomo’s fate. When these sexual harassment claims first began to gain steam, the president had this to say.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Should Gov. Cuomo resign if the investigation proves allegations of sexual harassment against him?
BIDEN IN MARCH: "Yes. I think he'll probably end up being prosecuted, too” pic.twitter.com/t7wI5lKMst
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 3, 2021
Well, the investigation is complete, and while it looks like there will be no charges due to sexual harassment being a civil matter, that investigation found that he harassed multiple women and created a hostile work environment. According to Joe Biden, it’s time for Cuomo to resign.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how the White House attempts to now straddle this fence. Will Biden come right out and say it’s time for Cuomo to go? Or will he and his handlers try to take a hands-off approach? Given the administration’s prior cowardice on a variety of other issues, my money is on the second option, though, I’m open to being surprised.
Even still, I suspect Biden never thought it would get this far when he made his pronouncement. At the time, it came across as a deflection, with the president being unwilling to just take a tough stand against his friend with the full expectation that the investigation would be inconclusive. But now, the redline he’s drawn has been crossed and Biden is left to either stand by his words or obfuscate. The fact that the president had his own sexual assault accuser probably pushed Biden to hedge as well.
Of course, Biden can’t separate himself from Cuomo just by throwing him under the bus even though the governor no doubt deserves to be thrown under the bus and run over multiple times. While other Democrats took a stand at the time, specifically in New York, Biden tried to have it both ways to protect his strong relationship with Cuomo. The “I barely know the guy” act isn’t going to play well when the president tries to trot it out there after the events of today.
In the end, I think this ends Cuomo’s political career if for no other reason than Letitia James wants his job. Regardless, no one should forget how much praise Biden lavished on the governor. Given that, it’s somewhat ironic that Biden may, perhaps unwillingly at this point, play a role in Cuomo’s demise.