Gov. Andrew Cuomo came armed with his usual PowerPoint slides on Wednesday to outline the latest COVID positive rates and hospitalization numbers (good news, the numbers are trending in the right direction, he says, but don't get cocky). The governor chided states for loosening COVID restrictions, he claimed there was a "deal" with lawmakers to alter his authority over responding to the pandemic, and called for schools for reopening, echoing President Joe Biden's call.
It was not for a half hour into the news conference that the governor addressed the gigantic, rampaging, trumpeting elephant in the room: The multiple allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by three women. He reiterated an apology he gave on Sunday in an emailed statement, prior to a third woman coming forward.
In short, Cuomo has no plans to leave office.
"I'm going to do the job the people of the state elected me to do," he said in his first COVID briefing since Lindsey Boylan detailed years of sexual harassment while working in his administration, including a claim he once gave her an unwated kiss.
Cuomo has denied her allegations.
Since then, two more women have alleged inapprorpriate behavior: former aide Charlotte Bennett told The New York Times the governor propositioned her for sex; Anna Ruch told the paper the governor tried to kiss her at a wedding and made an unwanted advance at a wedding two years ago. A photo of Ruch shows her uncomfortably looking at the governor as he places his hands on her head.
Cuomo has since pivoted to an apology, both in the Sunday statement and again today, to anyone who he may have made uncomfortable.
"I certainly never meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone any pain," he said. "That is the last thing I would ever want to do."
Underscoring the desired push to return to normal, Cuomo pointed to the state budget negotiations that will play out over the next month.
But what about the calls to resign from multiple members of the state Legislature? Pure politics, Cuomo indicated.
"Some politicians will always play politics," Cuomo said. "That's the nature of the beast. I don't think today is the day for politics."
It's not clear how long the desire to forge ahead with the business at hand — pandemic, a budget, an economy in needing of a rebuilding to name a few — will last as Democratic lawmakers in recent days have indicated their impatience with the governor.
Sen. James Skoufis and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti became the latest Democrats in the Legislature to call for his resignation earlier on Wednesday.
Crucially, top leaders like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have not done so yet. The Biden administration has so far said it will continue to wait for the outcome of the investigation.
Impeachment of the governor seems unlikely at this point.
Albany often has had to reconcile the sight of lawmakers and governors attempting to make laws under a cloud of scandal.
Sheldon Silver, who stepped down from the powerful Assembly speaker's perch amid a corruption indictment, continued to sit in the back of the chamber before his guilty verdict, rocky slowly back in his chair and voting like any other rank-and-file member.
Gov. David Paterson continued on in office despite a multitude of ethical headaches, including intervening in a close aide's domestic violence case.
But how will New Yorkers take in Cuomo's apology could be a different matter.
The governor urged New Yorkers to withhold judgment until Attorney General Letitia James released a report based on an investigation into the governor's behavior.
"Get the facts, please, before forming an opinion," Cuomo said, is voice seemingly shaking as he spoke.