Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted Monday he's done nothing wrong, and the many investigations his administration is now facing will bear that out.
Cuomo at a news conference in Syracuse addressed some of the controversies he is facing that threaten his future in elected office, and once again said he would not step down as many prominent fellow Democrats in New York have called on him to do.
The outdoor news conference at the State Fairgrounds was the first event since December in which Cuomo allowed reporters to attend in person. The event was held to announce the fair would reopen Aug. 20 after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic. He also announced some pandemic restrictions for outdoor stadiums, offices and gyms would be loosened.
But Cuomo did not avoid being asked questions about the growing trouble he is facing back in Albany: Allegations of sexual harassment and at least one allegation of sexual assault by a woman working in his office, concerns over potential self-dealing and using government aides to help him write a book about the pandemic that netted him a reported $4 million and an under counting of where the deaths of nursing home residents occurred during the pandemic.
In all instances, Cuomo said on Monday he did nothing wrong.
Asked directly if the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him are true, Cuomo said, "No. No, that's why I said when people suggested -- put it very simply no."
Asked if he would resign if a report compiled by Attorney General Letitia James's office found the contrary, Cuomo said, "The report can't say anything different because I didn't do anything wrong."
Cuomo added he was proud to have appointed women to prominent jobs in his administration and declined to say whether it was a mistake to invite female aides to the Executive Mansion to help him with work-related issues.
Using government aides to help him write the book "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic"? Those workers volunteered, he said.
"People volunteered to work on the book. The inverse is also true -- do you know anyone [who] says they had to work on the book who says they didn't volunteer?" Cuomo said. "I didn't have them sign a volunteer form if that's what you're asking."
Cuomo once again blamed the controversy surrounding nursing home fatality reporting on the politics of the pandemic, noting the Trump administration had last year request information from Democratic governors on the matter. He made no mention of James's office concluding nursing home deaths were likely under counted by the state, and that health officials later released a revised tally of deaths in January.
In all, Cuomo did not strike a combative tone with the questions on Monday. But the answers also represented a slightly different posture.
Cuomo had previously apologized for not releasing more information on nursing home fatalities earlier, saying the lack of transparency created a "void" that was filled by misinformation. He had also previously acknowledged making jokes in the workplace, and apologized if anyone felt uncomfortable.
Cuomo has also sought to keep the investigations and questions about them at arm's length. Citing COVID restrictions, Cuomo's events have previously barred the press from attending. When questions were allowed over video conference, his office selected which reporters were called on.
Still, Cuomo's event on Monday held some hallmarks of recent news conferences, including yet another Democratic lawmaker in the state Legislature who appeared alongside him amid calls for him to step down.
As he announced the opening of the fair later this summer, Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli of the Syracuse area praised Cuomo's leadership.