In the summer of 2002, Andrew Cuomo knew he was going down in defeat. His campaign for governor was sputtering, hobbled by a gaffe about Gov. George Pataki and the Sept. 11 attacks, at odds with nearly all of the Democratic establishment that was backing his rival, Carl McCall. 

Dropping out of the race before the primary votes were cast, Cuomo blamed his campaign advisors for leading him astray and sinking the campaign — a claim that stretched credulity at the time, given his top advisor is often himself. 

On Tuesday, nearly 20 years later, Cuomo announced he would step down from the job he spent the balance of his adult life pursuing. He, and his attorney Rita Glavin, blamed an unfair investigation and a "media frenzy" that has led to an insurmountable distraction. Cuomo claimed he never meant to cross the line with women who have accused him of inappropriate behavior and was unaware where the line was now drawn.

This, again, stretches credulity. Only two years ago, Cuomo had signed into law a measure strengthen the state's sexual harassment laws and lowering the threshold for what is considered inappropriate behavior. At Cuomo's own urging and actions, he redrew the line himself. 

The governor said this was about preventing a distracting impeachment and returning the focus of state government to governing. It was also about his continued presence in office, which for many Democrats and Republicans alike had become untenable under the cumulative weight of scandal.

Cuomo is leaving office blaming an environment he no longer could control, seeing conspiracies stacked against him. His attorneys released a memo that referenced former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara more than two dozen times, alleging Bharara's former deputy Joon Kim was somehow exacting a form of revenge when he investigated the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo. 

The memo also revealed Cuomo sought to block Bharara's nomination for U.S. attorney general in 2014 after the federal prosecutor probed the end of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission.

It was revealed this week in The New Yorker that things went further than that: Cuomo contacted the Obama White House to shutdown the Bharara probe altogether. 

“I stand by my comparison between Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump, particularly in light of the revelation of this new call," Bharara said in his podcast. "It's right out of the Donald Trump playbook. It tells you something about the believability and credibility of denials, particularly denials about retaliation. And a lot of what the report that was issued last week is about is a culture of retaliation of bullying and trying to shut things down."

Cuomo leaves office in 14 days, he said, to aid Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul with the transition. It remains to be seen if this is a relatively quiet grace period or a valedictory of his decade in power.