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“Melissa Quitting Made the Governor Resigning Inevitable”: With the Walls Closing In, Andrew Cuomo Finally Calls It Quits

It ought to have been a tip-off that one thing huge was up. On Tuesday morning, an NY1 digicam captured Governor Andrew Cuomo touchdown on the eastside Manhattan heliport, his first journey outdoors Albany for the reason that launch final week of a devastating report on sexual harassment allegations made towards him. Cuomo’s arrival was information all by itself. However strolling steps forward of Cuomo was his longtime prime lieutenant, Melissa DeRosa—two days after DeRosa had introduced her resignation. She climbed in a black state automotive. Cuomo bought behind the wheel and drove them to his Midtown workplace.

Because the world now is aware of, Cuomo was heading there to ship a surprising speech asserting his resignation, the abrupt ending to his practically three phrases in workplace and to a 12 months of a number of scandals. And maybe an ending to Cuomo’s 4 a long time in public life—from his begin as a teenage assistant on his father Mario’s unsuccessful 1977 run for NYC mayor to piloting Mario’s three profitable runs for governor to Andrew’s flip as federal housing secretary beneath Invoice Clinton to his one time period as state lawyer basic to his return to Albany in 2011, this time as governor himself. To Cuomo’s allies, it was the epic tour of a gifted politician; to his enemies, it was a “reign of terror,” as one among them put it to me simply after Cuomo stated goodbye.

It was by no means extra of a white-knuckle experience than previously 12 months, with DeRosa enjoying a vital function up till the ultimate moments—at first as a confidant, after which, in the end, as one motivating consider her boss’s resignation. She was not his political mind within the method of Karl Rove to George W. Bush; Cuomo, for higher and worse, was very a lot his personal political theorist, strategist, tactician, and operative. However DeRosa’s title—secretary to the governor—was extremely misleading. Her function appeared near that of a co-governor, on each coverage and politics. She was one of many only a few folks in Cuomo’s shrinking internal circle who may sometimes tell him no. For a few years the 2 had been a extremely efficient group, with DeRosa instrumental in all the pieces from elevating the minimal wage to altering the foundations so that girls giving start in the course of the pandemic may have a help individual with them within the supply room.

But DeRosa’s closeness to the governor—she was labeled “Magnificent Melissa” in a self-promotional poster created when Cuomo was using excessive in the course of the pandemic—meant she grew to become a key participant in all of the current crises. When Cuomo landed a reported $5.1 million contract to publish a ebook of “management classes” from responding to COVID, a draft of the textual content was reportedly labeled “MDR edits”—work she and different authorities staff reportedly did as volunteers. When Cuomo got here beneath hearth for the dealing with of the rely of coronavirus deaths in New York nursing houses, it was DeRosa who apologized to state legislators, telling them “we froze” out of concern that federal prosecutors would use the true numbers towards Cuomo.

DeRosa was additionally using in a automotive with Cuomo in July 2020. She had just lately discovered {that a} 25-year-old staffer, who has stated she is a sexual assault survivor, Charlotte Bennett, had complained about crude, suggestive feedback made to her by the 63-year-old Cuomo. (Cuomo has denied any inappropriate habits.) DeRosa confronted her boss. “I can’t imagine that this occurred,” she stated. “I can’t imagine you set your self in a scenario the place you’d be having any model of this dialog.” After which, when the automotive stopped for a purple mild, DeRosa opened the door and exited onto a midtown Manhattan sidewalk.

If solely she had stored strolling. However DeRosa had, by that time, been fiercely loyal to Cuomo for greater than seven years. And so she bought again on board, if not again within the automotive. DeRosa’s identify makes the second-most variety of appearances in Lawyer Normal Letitia James’s report, after Cuomo’s. In December, 2020, in keeping with the James investigation, DeRosa helped lead the hassle to launch a personnel file in retaliation towards Lindsey Boylan, a former aide who had accused Cuomo, in a sequence of tweets, of being “a sexual harasser and abuser” who was chargeable for the “most poisonous group setting” Boylan had ever skilled. Cuomo’s alleged conduct—with Boylan, Bennett, and the 9 different ladies described within the lawyer basic’s report—is the core difficulty, after all, and it’s the cause his maintain on his workplace crumbled. (He has denied all wrongdoing.) The reflex to punch again, laborious, when challenged flowed from Cuomo; little or no occurred in his administration with out his approval. And so the try by DeRosa and others within the administration to discredit Boylan grew to become a pivotal misstep. As an alternative of undermining Boylan’s accusations, it doubtless helped embolden different ladies to return ahead. (“With respect to authorized questions referring to how a criticism ought to be dealt with, or whether or not personnel data could possibly be supplied to the general public, Ms. DeRosa consulted with and relied upon recommendation of skilled counsel,” her lawyer, Sean Hecker, says.)

As James’s bombshell report ricocheted outward, DeRosa’s resignation was a blow Cuomo couldn’t ignore. “Melissa quitting made the governor resigning inevitable,” says a Democratic strategist who is aware of them each nicely. Nevertheless it was hardly the one issue. The fallout spiral was widening, with the harm extending to Roberta Kaplan, the outstanding lawyer who stop as chairwoman of Time’s Up, a company preventing sexual harassment and assault, after Kaplan’s function advising Cuomo on his response to Boylan grew to become public; and to Alphonso David, the governor’s former counsel, who’s reportedly dealing with a revolt of the workers on the Human Rights Marketing campaign, the place David is now the group’s president. The strain on Cuomo from highly effective associates attempting to salvage their reputations was solely more likely to solely develop. Maybe extra necessary, Cuomo’s firewall when it got here to public approval rankings and elections was Black ladies within the metropolis. The truth that one among their very own, Tish James of Brooklyn, was detailing the governor’s repulsive habits made counterarguments much more politically troublesome. And Cuomo has at all times been a realist in relation to counting votes; the numbers within the state meeting had been solidifying towards him. As a former Cuomo aide informed me final week, “He doesn’t need ‘impeached’ subsequent to his identify, as his legacy.”

https://www.vanityfair.com/information/2021/08/with-the-walls-closing-in-andrew-cuomo-finally-calls-it-quits | “Melissa Quitting Made the Governor Resigning Inevitable”: With the Partitions Closing In, Andrew Cuomo Lastly Calls It Quits

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