Hochul says she’s ready to lead NY following Cuomo’s exit

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — – Suddenly tapped to lead New York through a pandemic and a political earthquake, Lt. Gov Kathy Hochul said Wednesday she was ready to steer the state and would set a different tone than Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is resigning amid sexual harassment allegations.

"While it was not expected, it is a day for which I am prepared,” said Hochul, a western New York Democrat who has held multiple offices but is unfamiliar to many New Yorkers.

In her first public remarks after the Democratic governor announced his resignation, Hochul said she would change the work culture in the state’s top office.

“Nobody will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment,” vowed the lieutenant governor. She said there would be no place in her administration for any Cuomo aides who were implicated in unethical behavior by the state attorney general’s investigation of his behavior toward women.

Hochul, 62, is set to become the state’s first female governor in two weeks, following a remarkable transition period in which Cuomo has said he will work to ease her into a job that he dominated over his three terms in office.

Cuomo, 63, announced Tuesday that he would step down rather than face a likely impeachment trial after state Attorney General Letitia James released a report concluding he sexually harassed 11 women, including one who accused him of groping her breast.

Cuomo denies that he touched anyone inappropriately and said his instinct was to fight back against claims he felt were unfair or fabricated. But he said that with the state still in a pandemic crisis, it was best for him to step aside so the state’s leaders could “get back to governing.”

It remains to be seen how involved Cuomo will be in state government over the next two weeks, or how he’ll manage handing over authority – something he rarely ceded during his time in office.

His circle of advisers has shrunk, but his closest aide and policymaking partner Melissa DeRosa – who was a familiar face at Cuomo’s side during his televised briefings on New York’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic – made a surprise return after having announced her resignation from the administration Sunday. The governor’s office said she will remain in her job as secretary to the governor until Cuomo departs.

Leaders in the state legislature have yet to say whether they plan on dropping an impeachment investigation that has been ongoing since March, and which had been expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

In addition to examining his conduct with women, lawyers hired by the state Assembly had been investigating whether the administration’ manipulated data on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes and whether Cuomo improperly got help from his staff writing a book about the pandemic.

Republicans have urged the Democratic-controlled legislature to go ahead with impeachment, possibly to prevent Cuomo from running for office again.

Watch Hochul’s press conference in its entirety in the video player below. Mobile users: Click here to watch.

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