Alone and Out of Options: How Cuomo Finally Gave Up the Fight

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Behind the scenes, the politician vacillated betwixt defiant and defeated, yet accepting that his formidable governmental service had fallen away.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with his daughter, Michaela, successful  Manhattan connected  Tuesday aft  announcing his resignation.
Credit...Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Aug. 10, 2021, 8:25 p.m. ET

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was wearing everyone down.

He was being wronged, helium railed to advisers implicit the weekend, and with fewer allies near to support him publically aft a damning authorities lawyer general’s report into allegations of intersexual harassment, helium feared voters were getting an unshakable impression, according to radical with nonstop cognition of his conversations. Everyone was talking astir 11 women, helium complained privately, but lone a fistful of accusations were genuinely damaging successful a vacuum, helium felt. And those helium saw acceptable to fight.

Never caput the toll that the study was having connected immoderate of those closest to Mr. Cuomo, including his brother, Chris Cuomo, the CNN big whose familial counsel connected the allegations caused an outcry, and his apical aide, Melissa DeRosa, who had already been considering stepping down for weeks. Never caput that a caller revelation from the probe — that Mr. Cuomo had harassed a pistillate trooper connected his information item — had astonished adjacent those who knew him best.

The governor’s ellipse had ever been tiny to the constituent of claustrophobic. But increasingly, connected the question of resign oregon fight, Mr. Cuomo was becoming a conjugation of one. At times, helium spent the past days efficaciously forum buying among advisers — telling them helium wanted to enactment and that helium believed helium should beryllium allowed to, past waiting for them to archer him helium was right. Most had fixed up connected trying to speech him retired of it, adjacent if they were not encouraging him to property on.

But by Sunday, Ms. DeRosa — agelong the fiercest protector of Mr. Cuomo’s nationalist image, the adjutant accused successful the study of plotting with others to retaliate against 1 of his victims — told him she could nary longer serve, successful what allies hoped would beryllium a last awesome to him that helium had nary way forward.

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Credit...Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

It took different time and different bid of devastating setbacks for the connection to get through: the airing aboriginal Monday greeting of an interrogation with Brittany Commisso, an adjutant successful the governor’s bureau who has made among the astir superior allegations of groping; a connection from Carl Heastie, the Assembly speaker, that helium would not beryllium striking immoderate compromise with Mr. Cuomo to stave disconnected impeachment proceedings; a increasing chorus from once-close confidantes similar Jim Malatras, Mr. Cuomo’s handpicked authorities assemblage strategy chancellor, claiming outrage astatine “the repugnant acts elaborate successful the report.”

In private, astatine last, Mr. Cuomo came to spot what helium had been unwilling to: For the consummate deal-cutter, the inveterate angle-seeker, determination was nary play left. He told a fistful of adjacent advisers what helium had to do.

“He had to spot determination were nary straws,” said Jay Jacobs, the authorities Democratic chair, describing what it took to dislodge Mr. Cuomo and recalling his ain initially fruitless effort to person him to resign past week, their astir caller speech until Tuesday afternoon. “There was thing to clasp connected to.”

The spectacle connected Tuesday greeting — a politician ceding the powerfulness helium had worked astir of 4 decades to accumulate; a relentless man, relenting — was astatine erstwhile stunning and unsurprising to those closest to him. It was the culmination of a frenetic, often contradictory fewer days during which Mr. Cuomo seemed to vacillate betwixt defiant and defeated, predisposed to combat but yet resigned to the information that his formidable governmental service had fallen away. This relationship is based connected interviews with much than a twelve aides, advisers and others with nonstop cognition of his scattershot last efforts to enactment successful bureau and eventual determination to leave, astir each of whom insisted connected anonymity to sermon delicate conversations.

For months, Mr. Cuomo had recovered himself politically isolated, his informal furniture shrinking arsenic astir New York lawmakers wrong and extracurricular of Albany called connected him to measurement aside. While nary 1 suggested that Mr. Cuomo relished this crisis, peculiarly aft being lionized during the aboriginal months of Covid past year, immoderate who cognize him said helium did look to evince a definite daredevil’s thrill successful sizing up the agelong governmental likelihood — and fancying himself the uncommon breed susceptible of surmounting them.

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Credit...James Estrin/The New York Times

The strategy aft the report’s merchandise past week was an workout successful fits and starts for Mr. Cuomo. The governor’s lawyers considered suing the lawyer general’s bureau to get the afloat transcripts of the interviews conducted by investigators, respective radical with cognition of the substance said, which would person apt slowed down the impeachment process.

But Mr. Cuomo was besides plainly alert of his precarious position. When the study was released connected Aug. 3, helium and his advisers had been blindsided, not having expected it to get for different 2 weeks oregon so, according to 4 radical with cognition of Mr. Cuomo’s discussions. By precocious Wednesday, the politician had concluded that helium would person to resign, 1 idiosyncratic said. On Thursday morning, helium began the time intending to marque that announcement connected Friday. But earlier lunchtime, the idiosyncratic said, the politician seemingly changed his mind.

While the precise crushed for the displacement was unclear, determination was speech among immoderate advisers connected Thursday astir preparing and moving a bid of person-on-the-street tv advertisements featuring New Yorkers who thought helium was doing a large job, according to 2 radical with cognition of the discussions. The goal: Move the needle connected the polls successful the hopes of influencing Assembly members to ballot against impeachment. The advertisement thought was yet dismissed.

As of Sunday, earlier Ms. DeRosa’s resignation, Mr. Cuomo was insisting to confidants that helium was not going anywhere. The claims by Lindsey Boylan, the first adjutant to publically impeach the governor of harassment, peculiarly infuriated Mr. Cuomo and his advisers. He had been expecting the study to bespeak what helium believed were consensual flirtations, radical who spoke to him said, oregon to reason astatine minimum that immoderate events were “he-said, she-said.”

The Path to Governor Cuomo’s Resignation


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Many advisers disagreed with immoderate rosy assessment. Chris Cuomo was among those who concluded that his member should resign — and told him arsenic much, according to radical with nonstop cognition of the matter.

“I heard from him the time oregon 2 aft the report, and helium was successful a warring temper then,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has known Mr. Cuomo for decades. He said Mr. Cuomo told him that 1 of the investigators, who had antecedently been the acting United States lawyer successful Manhattan, was “out to get him.” When Mr. Sharpton told Mr. Cuomo that section leaders of his National Action Network wanted the politician to resign, Mr. Cuomo said, “You’ve got to springiness maine a chance, things volition travel out” that would vindicate him.

“I didn’t perceive from him since then,” Mr. Sharpton said.

But advisers accidental that the reputational blast radius — affecting not lone the politician but, increasingly, those astir apt to assistance oregon support him, similar his brother, Ms. DeRosa and different erstwhile aides — seemed to beryllium portion of what made him find determination was nary mode forward. “When the lone person you person is the 1 looking you backmost successful the mirror,” a caller advisor said, “you’re screwed.”

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Credit...Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

As Monday wore on, and lawmakers discussed impeachment astatine the Capitol complex, Mr. Cuomo was drafting resignation remarks successful the enforcement residence. He was joined by Ms. DeRosa, who acceptable her authoritative departure to align with Mr. Cuomo’s successful 2 weeks, and different adviser, Stephanie Benton. But astir of the penning was his, according to a idiosyncratic with nonstop cognition of the matter, reflecting his equivocal feelings astir it all: He would archer New Yorkers that helium loved them, that helium would beryllium leaving them and that the claims against him, contempt his determination connected Tuesday, were not to beryllium wholly believed.

Several radical who cognize Mr. Cuomo likened his prime to his archetypal bruising governmental failure: the 2002 Democratic superior for governor, erstwhile Mr. Cuomo vowed to combat connected successful a contention helium was poised to lose, earlier concluding days earlier the ballot that leaving the contest would prevention immoderate look and presumption him for a governmental comeback. (A tiny contingent of radical astir Mr. Cuomo judge helium could tally again successful the future, if the legislature does not barroom him from doing truthful done impeachment proceedings.)

By Tuesday morning, adjacent arsenic fewer knew precisely what was coming wrong hours, thing seemed to beryllium stirring astatine Mr. Cuomo’s Midtown office. The 38th level briefing country — the abstraction where, for much than a decade, helium had held swaggering quality conferences astir his enforcement feats — was acceptable up for nationalist remarks. At slightest 1 unit subordinate was advised astir 8 a.m. to deterioration a suit to work, often the surest awesome of a looming Cuomo visit.

Before noon, Mr. Cuomo took a spot astatine the briefing table, flanked by an American emblem and the authorities flag. A elder authoritative had encouraged unit members to articulation the governor, lest helium find himself addressing an bare room. A fewer were successful tears arsenic they took their seats successful chairs typically reserved for the press.

Mr. Cuomo took a enactment to cod himself. He recovered the camera and looked consecutive ahead.

“Let’s go,” helium said. He was ready.

Reporting was contributed by Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Grace Ashford, J. David Goodman, Shane Goldmacher and Michael Gold

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