NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Federal, state and local officials are calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign or be removed from office after an investigation by New York’s attorney general found he sexually harassed several women.
Mayor Bill de Blasio upped the ante Wednesday morning, saying the governor should face criminal charges.READ MORE: Cuomo Faces Mounting Calls To Resign Or Face Impeachment Trial After Bombshell AG Report
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 4, 2021
“I absolutely believe he should resign for the good of New York State and our people. If he doesn’t, the clamor — which is universal at this point, Democrats and Republicans — saying he’s got to go is going to win the day,” the mayor told CBS This Morning. “If he wants to wait for impeachment, he can, but it’s coming soon in our state Legislature.”
Asked whether Cuomo should be charged criminally, de Blasio said, “It looks like it.”
“Yeah. If you assault a woman, you do something against her will sexually, that’s criminal,” he added. “The Albany County district attorney is looking at that, and I think he should be charged.”
WATCH: N.Y. Attorney General James’ Press Conference On Report
Eleven women have come forward accusing him of misconduct, and state Attorney General Letitia James says they were found to be credible.
“I think the governor is in for a lot of litigation civilly, perhaps something criminally, though we don’t know that yet,” CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
One woman identified as “Executive Assistant #1” said the governor groped her. According to the report, in November, the governor hugged her and “reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast” while at the executive mansion.
“The attorney general was very clear that she did her job and her job is over, and it is up to any police department, any district attorney’s office, if they see any of these allegations, to go forward if they choose to do so,” Klieman said.READ MORE: TIMELINE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Under Investigation For Sexual Harassment Allegations, Nursing Home Deaths
By Wednesday afternoon, the Manhattan, Nassau and Westchester county district attorneys had asked James’ office for access to files on the Cuomo investigation to see if any of the incidents took place under their jurisdiction. The Albany district attorney is also investigating.
“We are reviewing the deeply disturbing findings of the Attorney General’s report regarding the Governor’s alleged conduct,” Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith said in a statement. “We have requested the Attorney General’s records related to any incidents that occurred in Nassau County and will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate any potential crimes.”
WATCH: N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Press Conference In Response
“While it’s significant that they want to review it, nothing really matters until and unless they bring charges,” criminal defense attorney Brian Wagner said, adding any potential charges in New York might be brought under “forcible touching,” a misdemeanor.
“What that requires is that an individual touches a sexual organ or sexual intimate part of another person for the purpose of gratification, which is why the buttocks and the breast would certainly qualify,” Wagner said.
But the much more likely scenario is that Cuomo would face civil lawsuits, where cases don’t have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
“In a civil case the evidence has to be by preponderance of the evidence, so what that means is 51%, a little more likely than not, and that’s obviously a much lower standard,” Wagner said.
And that’s because a criminal case involves sending someone to jail, while a civil case is monetary damages.
In addition, the state could also be sued, but legal experts say it might argue the governor was acting outside of his role as governor.
Cuomo said Tuesday he will not step down, insisting he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
Cuomo also played a slideshow of photos showing him embrace several people, including the Clintons and other public figures.
“I’ve been making the same gesture in public all my life. I actually learned it from my mother and from my father,” he said, adding he now understands there are “generational or cultural perspectives that, frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated.”MORE NEWS: Charlotte Bennett, Other Accusers Speak Out After Bombshell Gov. Cuomo Investigation Report, Call For Impeachment
Mayor de Blasio blasted that line of defense Wednesday, calling it an “embarrassment.”