From Covid comforter to sex assault accused: New York Governor Cuomo's fall from grace

For much of last year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was perhaps the most trusted politician in America; his daily televised coronavirus briefings, accompanied by a PowerPoint slide deck, made him a widely admired source of comfort in his home state and beyond.

However, all that changed when the state attorney general released a scathing report that found Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women, retaliated against at least one victim for making her complaint public, and created a toxic workplace culture of fear and intimidation.

Let's take a look at his stunning fall:

Must-watch television

Cuomo's coronavirus briefings last year, often carried live by nearly every television network, became appointment television at a time when President Donald Trump was struggling to reassure the public and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was confined to his Delaware home.

Still, Cuomo faced some criticism for not closing down the state sooner, as well as scrutiny over whether his administration sought to conceal the extent of nursing home deaths. Cuomo has defended his response to the pandemic and denied any wrongdoing with respect to death statistics.

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Top campaign adviser to his father

The New York City-born Cuomo began his political career as a top campaign adviser to his father, Mario Cuomo, who served three terms as New York governor from 1983 to 1994.

After a stint as a prosecutor and lawyer, Andrew Cuomo joined President Bill Clinton's administration and eventually became US secretary of housing and urban development.

He also married into a political dynasty when he wed Kerry Kennedy in 1990, though they would divorce in 2005. 

Cuomo's brother, Chris, is a high-profile anchor for CNN.

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'Comeback kid'

Andrew Cuomo's first foray into statewide politics went poorly, when he lost the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2002 despite strong fundraising. In 2006, he successfully ran for attorney general, leading some Democratic politicians to label him the state's "comeback kid."

He was largely viewed as a ideological centrist, in 2018, he beat back a liberal challenge from "Sex and the City" actor Cynthia Nixon, though he has moved left in recent years with the rest of the Democratic Party.

 

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Ruthless politician

As his power grew, Cuomo built a reputation as an ambitious, ruthless politician who was willing to retaliate against perceived enemies and whose abrasive style in private often alienated others.

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Threatened to attack state assemblyman publicly

Earlier this year, Cuomo called a state assemblyman, Ron Kim, who had criticised the governor over the nursing home crisis, and threatened to attack him publicly, according to Kim. Cuomo would do just that a week later at a news briefing.

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Feud with mayor

His years-long feud with liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gave the city's tabloids plenty of fodder, from the serious to the ridiculous. In 2016, the pair fought over the fate of a wayward deer that had found its way into Manhattan; when the deer died, each administration blamed the other.

At times their animosity caused confusion during the pandemic. In the spring of 2020, de Blasio announced city schools would close for the rest of the year, only to be corrected by Cuomo, who said only the governor had the authority to do so.

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Weathered several scandals

Cuomo had weathered other potential scandals. In 2014, he disbanded an anti-corruption panel only nine months after he convened it, triggering a U.S. Justice Department inquiry. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan eventually concluded there was insufficient evidence to show any crimes occurred.

(Photograph:AFP)

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