Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his first public speech since resigning six months ago, appearing Sunday at a Brooklyn church to claim that “cancel culture” was to blame for the sexual harassment scandal that prompted his exit this summer.
The remarks were delivered at the God’s Battalion of Prayer, at an East Flatbush church, led by a longtime Cuomo ally. In his roughly 20-minute speech, the ex-governor decried the “political sharks” in Albany and “democratic extremists” who he accused of overturning his election.
“My situation is illustrative of a larger issue that must be addressed because it endangers all of us,” he said. “The truth is the so-called cancel culture mentality is growing and is dangerous and Democrats must beware.”
The disgraced Democrat also appeared to hint at a possible return to public service, repeatedly invoking the metaphor of crossing a bridge, while acknowledging that he was still moving from “anger to acceptance.”
“The Bible teaches perseverance. It teaches us to get off the mat,” he said. “They broke my heart, but they didn’t break my spirit. I want to take the energy that could have made me bitter and use it to make us better.”
Cuomo was invited to the church by Rev. Alfred Cockfield II, who ticked off a list of the ex-governor’s pandemic-era accomplishments before welcoming him to speak to a room that appeared on video to be less than half full.
Cockfield, who is also a close ally to Mayor Eric Adams, was appointed by Cuomo last summer to the Long Island Power Authority board of trustees. His Brooklyn church has long served as a campaign stop for elected officials.
To date, Cuomo has not indicated that he plans to run for office. But he has begun mounting a campaign of public rehabilitation, spending some of his $16 million of leftover campaign funds on TV ads claiming that he was exonerated.
On Sunday, he reiterated the line that the state attorney general report, which found that he sexually harassed 11 women, amounted to “prosecutorial misconduct.” The report was released in early August and the governor announced his resignation soon after on Aug. 10.
As evidence, Cuomo cited the lack of criminal charges brought by district attorneys, though prosecutors in several cases have said the allegations – including that he groped an aide without her consent – are credible. Sexual harassment, as defined by New York, does not require a crime to have been committed.
“The truth is also that contrary to what my political opponents would have you believe, nothing I did violated any law or regulation,” he said. “I said that from the start and I would defend any allegation.”
In response to Cuomo’s speech, a spokesperson for Attorney General Letitia James’s reelection campaign, Yuridia Peña, described Cuomo as a “sick, pathetic man.”
“Serial sexual harasser Andrew Cuomo won’t even spare a house of worship from his lies,” the statement read. “Even though multiple independent investigations found his victims to be credible, Cuomo continues to blame everyone but himself.”