New York Governor Andrew Cuomo looks on as he delivers remarks on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Riverside Church in New York, November 15, 2020.
Andrew Kelly | Reuters
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he will sign the state legislature’s bill to strip him of the emergency powers he wielded throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic governor, grappling with waves of criticism and calls for his resignation over dueling crises in his administration, also vowed he was “not going to be distracted” in the fight against Covid.
“I’m signing today the legislature’s emergency powers bill, and I’m going to implement it today,” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters.
Cuomo said he would take that step with the “significant change” of allowing Empire State restaurants outside of New York City to increase indoor dining capacity to 75% from 50%.
“The numbers are down. When the numbers are down, we adjust the economic reopening valve,” Cuomo said.
The change will be implemented on March 19, according to the governor. But he cautioned that “if the numbers change, if something happens, if there’s a downturn, then obviously we will adjust.”
Cuomo is under fire amid a growing number of allegations of sexual harassment or inappropriate workplace conduct, as well as an ongoing scandal over his administration’s handling of Covid nursing home death data.
But Cuomo was defiant when peppered with questions about the allegations from multiple women, including two more who came forward Saturday.
“There are some legislators who suggest that I resign because of accusations,” Cuomo said. Some members of Cuomo’s own party, including state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, have called for him to step down.
“I was elected by the people of this state, I wasn’t elected by politicians. I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” he said.
“The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic,” Cuomo added. He called for people to let New York Attorney General Letitia James complete her independent probe of the harassment claims before drawing conclusions.
“Let the attorney general do her job. She’s very good, she’s very competent. And that will be due process, and then we’ll have the facts,” he said.
“There is no way I resign,” Cuomo added. “But I’m not going to be distracted by this, either … We have a lot of work to do.”
Asked about Biaggi in particular, Cuomo replied, “I have a news flash for you: There is politics in politics.”
“I have political differences with people,” Cuomo said, including with some Democrats and Biaggi. “But they don’t override the people’s will. They don’t override elections. They don’t get to hear an allegation and make a determination on the allegation,” he said.
— CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.