The Atlantic Daily: What Did Andrew Cuomo Think Would Happen?

The governor of New York requested an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple women. Today, the state attorney general’s office announced findings of at least 11 credible accusations.

Andrew Cuomo
Office of the NY Governor / AP

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Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has always loved drawing attention to himself. This is, after all, the man who signed a contract for a book about his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic—even as the pandemic was still raging.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine what Cuomo thought would happen when he requested an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple women, including members of his staff. Today, New York Attorney General Tish James announced scathing findings: “Governor Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees in violation of both federal and state laws,” James said, adding that his behavior “corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government.” James’s team reported it had found at least 11 credible accusations against the Democratic governor.

Though the report does not recommend criminal charges, it may spell the end of Cuomo’s long career in politics. Nearly every prominent elected Democrat in the state has called for him to resign, and President Joe Biden said today that Cuomo should step down. (Cuomo is also facing criticism over evidence that he sought to hide data about nursing-home deaths during the pandemic.)

How did we get here?

  • Credulous coverage. I wrote in May 2020 about CNN’s inexplicable decision to let Cuomo’s brother Chris conduct a series of softball interviews on prime-time TV. (Chris Cuomo also advised his brother privately, which CNN said was inappropriate.)

  • Single-party supremacy. States dominated by one party, like New York, foster mediocre and flawed leaders like Cuomo. Now other Democrats like Tish James and top state legislators may force him out, though Cuomo accused them today of bias.

  • Demagogic decay. Cuomo and former President Donald Trump have always been more similar than either would like to admit, and as Cuomo’s troubles multiplied, he pulled straight from Trump’s arguments against accountability.

Cuomo this afternoon denied that he sexually harassed anyone, though he acknowledged some of the alleged behavior. He even showed—I am not making this up—a slideshow of pictures of himself touching people’s faces, insisting the gesture was not sexual. “I want New York state government to be a model of office behavior,” he said. Accountability at the very top would be one place to start.

Londoners attending a live performance of 'Romeo and Juliet' on July 21, 2021
David Jensen / Regents Park Theatre / Getty

One question, answered: Is there any other country we can look to for clues on how Delta might progress here in the United States?

Watch the United Kingdom, which lifted all its COVID-19 restrictions just as Delta peaked, Sarah Zhang reports.

The optimistic scenario: Cases keep decreasing through August as the U.K. vaccinates more people … With its high vaccination rates, especially among the elderly and most vulnerable, the U.K. is one of the best-positioned countries in the world to ride out the Delta wave without lockdowns. Hospitalizations during this Delta-driven bump remained low compared with pre-vaccination waves.

But if the opposite happens, if cases skyrocket so much that hospitalizations also rise to overwhelming levels, then even higher vaccination coverage and future restrictions might be necessary, especially in the fall. The situation will be worse in countries with lower vaccination rates.

Read Sarah’s story.

Tonight’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Climbing sees its Olympic debut.

A break from the news:

For those venturing back to the dentist after more than a year and a half: Consider whether you really need to go every six months. And you may want a second opinion before getting that root canal.


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.