NEW YORK (AP) — Just six months after he resigned from office in disgrace over sexual harassment allegations, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to be hinting at a political comeback in remarks at a Brooklyn church on Sunday.
The Democrat made a campaign-like stop at a Brooklyn church Sunday, delivering a speech in which he condemned “cancel culture.” The public appearance, his first since leaving office, came a week after Cuomo’s campaign launched a digital and television advertising campaign pushing a similar message: He was driven from office unfairly.
Cuomo quoted the Bible several times as he described his travails then went on the offensive to attack the “political sharks” in Albany who, he said, “smelled blood” and exploited the situation for political gain.
“The actions against me were prosecutorial misconduct,” Cuomo said, repeating a theme he has pushed from the outset. “They used cancel culture to effectively overturn an election.”
Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James, who released the report last summer that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, hit back at the former governor Sunday via a statement from her reelection campaign.
“Serial sexual harasser Andrew Cuomo won’t even spare a house of worship from his lies,” James’ campaign said. “Even though multiple independent investigations found his victims to be credible, Cuomo continues to blame everyone but himself.”
Cuomo resigned in August, days after an independent probe found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and that he and aides worked to retaliate against an accuser. On Sunday, Cuomo acknowledged his behavior wasn’t appropriate but quickly added that nothing he did violated the law.
“I didn’t appreciate how fast the perspectives changed,” he said. “I’ve learned a powerful lesson and paid a very high price for learning that lesson. God isn’t finished with me yet.”
Cuomo hasn’t said he’s running for office, but is still sitting on a multimillion dollar campaign war chest he could use to finance another run.
Several district attorneys in New York said they found Cuomo’s accusers “credible,” but said the available evidence wasn’t strong enough to press criminal charges against him. Last month, a New York state trooper sued him claiming he caused her severe mental anguish and emotional distress by touching her inappropriately and making suggestive comments. A Cuomo spokesperson called the suit a “cheap cash extortion.”
Cuomo used his platform Sunday mostly to condemn a social media-fueled climate he said is growing and dangerous.
“Any accusation can trigger condemnation without facts or due process,” he said. “We are a nation of laws, not a nation of tweets. Woe unto us if we allow that to become our new justice system.”
Returning several times to a Biblical metaphor of crossing a bridge to describe his journey, Cuomo hinted he won’t stay out of the spotlight.
“The Bible teaches perseverance, it teaches us to get off the mat,” he said. “They broke my heart but they didn’t break my spirit. I want to take the energy that could have made me bitter and make us better.”