The Daily Beast
SETH WENIG/AFP/GettyAfter a deluge of new reporting this weekend portrayed a culture of sexual harassment and bullying in his office, embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday embraced his defense of choice: tradition."If customs change, I’ll change—the customs and behaviors," Cuomo said during a Sunday afternoon conference call with reporters, in response to an article published Saturday by The Wall Street Journal. In it, former staffer Ana Liss said Cuomo asked if she had a boyfriend, hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks, and grabbed her waist for a photo.“Did I take a picture with Ms. Liss? Yes, I took a pic with Ms. Liss,” Cuomo continued. “But taking a picture is commonplace.” Liss said the behavior was not appropriate, and that it reduced her to “just a skirt.”Fox News Turns to Tyrus, Currently Embroiled in Sexual-Harassment Lawsuit, for Thoughts on Cuomo In addition to the charges leveled by Liss, four other women who worked for Cuomo or had interactions with him have now accused him of touching them inappropriately or making unwelcome sexual comments. Cuomo took aim at one of them, Karen Hinton, who told NBC Cuomo hugged her in an “inappropriate” and “unethical” embrace, and that she could feel the governor was aroused. Her story was also included in a Washington Post investigation that found evidence of decades of “hostile, toxic” behavior in workplaces overseen by the governor.“What she said is not true,” Cuomo insisted, suggesting somehow that the haters were just out to get him. “And as everybody who has been involved on any level in New York politics knows, she has been a longtime political adversary of mine, highly critical for many many years, and has made many accusations.”Five women have shared stories about sexual harassment and other behavior that in some cases included unwanted physical contact by Cuomo, 63. In his third term as governor, Cuomo was until recently basking in the glow of an Emmy win tied to his COVID-19 briefings. He has denied the most serious allegations—including the claim by former aide Lindsey Boylan that he kissed her—apologized for making people uncomfortable and, most consistently, pleaded ignorance about propriety in modern workplaces.Even as the sexual harassment scandal has snowballed, Cuomo faces federal scrutiny of coronavirus nursing-home death numbers on his watch, as well as a reckoning over his use of raw power in Albany. Most infamously, a state legislator recently said he called him at home and threatened to destroy him, an accusation Cuomo denied, and one an aide suggested was a lie.On Sunday, the governor flatly dismissed the idea of stepping down.“The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic,” he said, veering toward conservative critiques of so-called cancel culture. “We always have done the exact opposite, the system is based on due process. Anyone can make an allegation. But it’s in the credibility of the accusation.”Some Democrats, including Democratic State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, have called for Cuomo to resign anyway.In response, Cuomo offered what was perhaps the most indisputably factual thing he said on Sunday: “I have a newsflash for you. There is politics in politics.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.