Biden has 'no plans' to call Cuomo to ask for resignation, won't weigh in on New York impeachment: Psaki

Biden wants Cuomo to resign, but has 'no plans' to call governor to ask him to step down

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden has "no plans" to personally call embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and ask for his resignation after the state's attorney general said he sexually harassed several women, breaking state and federal law.

"No," Psaki said when asked if the president called the governor since the release of the report by New York Attorney General Letitia James Tuesday. The president said that Cuomo should resign hours after the report was released.

Asked later in the briefing if Biden will call Cuomo personally as the leader of the Democratic Party and ask him to step down for the good of the party, Psaki did not answer the question. 

"I think the president was pretty clear publicly. He asked him to resign yesterday," Psaki said. She added that she has "no plans" to brief reporters about for such a call. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on May 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on May 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images) (Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images)

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Psaki was also asked whether the president supports New York legislators removing Cuomo from office via impeachment. She would not say that he does, but simply reiterated that the president believes Cuomo should resign.

"The president made clear yesterday that Gov. Cuomo should resign and I believe we should start with that... we'll leave it to them to speak to that," Psaki said of New York lawmakers and impeaching Cuomo. "The president made clear because of the abhorrent allegations ... that it is time for Gov. Cuomo to resign."

But she did not say that the White House will strip Cuomo of his leadership status on the administration's COVID-19 response calls with governors.

"I'm not sure when the next one is scheduled but again I would convey that our objective is not to hurt the people of New York in the fight against COVID," Psaki said. "If he is no longer the governor of New York, which is certainly what the president made clear is his preference then we will engage with other people. But we are not going to take steps to hurt the people of New York in the fight against COVID."

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Biden was asked Tuesday whether Cuomo should resign in light of the president's statement earlier this year that if the attorney general corroborated the sexual harassment allegations then the governor should step down. Biden said that he stood by the statement and only explicitly said "yes" Cuomo should step down after being asked a follow-up question.

President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 vaccination program during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 vaccination program during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The president also demurred when asked whether Cuomo should be impeached due to his refusal to resign.

"Let's take one thing at a time here," Biden said. "I think he should resign."

Biden also said Tuesday that he had not spoken to Cuomo and declined to weigh in on whether Cuomo should be prosecuted after the New York attorney general said he broke state and federal law. 

The White House and Biden have been among the slowest actors in the Democratic Party to condemn Cuomo and ask him to resign, and have done so in some of the slowest terms. When both New York Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer were calling on Cuomo to step down earlier this year, Biden said he would wait until the attorney general's report to make a decision. 

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And after the release of the report, Biden would only say Cuomo should resign when specifically pressed by a reporter. The White House has not released any statement or press release on the allegations against Cuomo. Meanwhile, Schumer and Gillibrand, both Democrats, issued a scathing statement on Tuesday. 

"As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate, and completely unacceptable," they said. "The New York State Attorney General has conducted an independent, thorough and professional investigation that found the Governor violated state and federal law, had a pattern of sexually harassing current and former employees, retaliated against at least one of the accusers, and created a hostile work environment."

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They added: "No elected official is above the law. The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign."