Cuomo still haunts and taunts New York

The disgraced ex-governor wouldn’t be the first guy to think he can overcome allegations of sexual misconduct, rank incompetence and corruption and make a political comeback.

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Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens during a coronavirus news conference on March 2, 2020 in Manhattan.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo listens during a coronavirus news conference on March 2, 2020 in Manhattan.

Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS

As I began my morning reading, I had to do a double-take at the Politico headline near the bottom of the home page: “He’s nuts and he’s got a vendetta:”

While that easily could have described former President Donald Trump, or his one-time aide Steve Bannon, who surrendered to authorities Monday on contempt charges, or even any number of members of Congress, what followed the colon was more surprising:

“Cuomo won’t leave New York alone.”

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Anna Gronewold’s excellently and extensively reported piece outlined the myriad ways in which Andrew Cuomo, the disgraced former governor who resigned following multiple sexual harassment accusations and a shameful nursing home COVID-19 coverup, has simply refused to go away.

In August, a week before he finally resigned, most New Yorkers, including more than half of New York Democrats, believed he should step down, according to a Marist Institute of Public Opinion poll.

The day after Attorney General Letitia James, also a Democrat, released details of the investigation into Cuomo’s harassment allegations, his job approval tanked 16 percentage points overnight, and his disapproval rating rose 15 points.

Over the course of his dual public scandals, the entire New York Democratic congressional delegation had called for his ouster. National Democrats, too, from Sen. Chuck Schumer to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and eventually even President Joe Biden, formerly a close ally, had also called on him to resign.

Virtually no one, outside his own inner circle, wanted Cuomo to keep fighting for his job, the public’s support or his reputation, all of which were eviscerated by the bombshell allegations and the graphic details revealed by the independent investigation. As the 2021 elections loomed near, he was increasingly a headache for Democrats.

And yet, Cuomo is behaving as if he still has the power and influence he once wielded so brutishly while reigning over New Yorkers.

As Politico highlights, his lawyer is still holding regular press conferences asking to re-open investigations and release more transcripts.

His few remaining allies are trying to clean up his image, discrediting his many accusers, with his daughter even pointing her Twitter followers to a Substack story blaming his scandal on media coverage and “a manufactured #MeToo-style PR offensive.”

His advisers keep floating the idea that he could run for something again — governor or attorney general perhaps, all while attacking AG James, who’s running for governor.

Meanwhile, James, Cuomo’s successor Gov. Kathy Hochul and elected New Yorkers in every corner of the state continue to have to waste their time answering questions about Cuomo and what he plans to do.

Democrats are even speaking out publicly about their frustrations and concerns that he will refuse to go away.

“I think Cuomo was always very aggressive in trying to get his side out of how he feels on issues,” says Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “But I think, people in the state, we’re ready to move forward, move on.”

When asked about that, Cuomo’s spokesperson — he tellingly still has one of those — sounded as defiant as Cuomo does: “Of course, we’re not going away until the truth is revealed, and we can’t control if some people have guilty consciences or if we are taking up valuable real estate in the heads of others.”

If that sounds like Cuomo’s out for revenge, that’s exactly what New York electeds are worried about.

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“He’s nuts and he’s got a vendetta right now,” said a legislative source. “I wouldn’t put it past him.”

Cuomo has $18 million in leftover campaign money to flash around town, and if a recent spate of terrible headlines are any indication, he’s likely desperate to put it to good use.

This week, a New York ethics commission voted to rescind approval of his $5.1 million book deal, after learning that he used government staff to help on the project.

According to newly released transcripts of sworn testimony, a former state health official not only told the independent investigators about being the subject of sexualized comments by Cuomo — but worse, she also said that she and other officials crucial to New York’s COVID-19 response were often sidelined by the governor, contributing to a pandemic response that could have cost lives. Her testimony puts into startling relief just how badly Cuomo may have managed the pandemic that he was simultaneously gloating about, even releasing a poster chronicling his successful conquering of the COVID mountain.

A new New York magazine profile paints the picture of an embittered and aggrieved man “in exile,” save for his inner circle of family and former aides.

If this is the sordid environment in which Cuomo thinks he should mount a comeback, he might be as delusional as he is narcissistic. Of course, he wouldn’t be the first guy to think he can overcome allegations of sexual misconduct, rank incompetence and corruption — but when you’re reduced to following in Trump’s footsteps, you’ve truly hit rock bottom.

Someone should let Cuomo know that’s where he’s at.

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S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN. Follow her on Twitter @secupp

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