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“A Lot of Time With Cars and Fish”: One Year Later, Andrew Cuomo Still Regrets Resigning

One year later, Andrew Cuomo still regrets resigning. Since leaving the governor’s mansion last August, he has had no fixed address. He has been on several dates, but remains single. And he is keenly interested in the results of his successor’s campaign this November—because if Kathy Hochul loses, it could open the door to Cuomo’s political revival.

At first, Cuomo, who quit amid multiple sexual harassment allegations against him, appeared to be pursuing a more aggressive comeback strategy. Last spring he was giving speeches and floating a trial balloon that he might challenge Hochul, either in the Democratic primary or as an independent. Some of the polling numbers even looked encouraging for him, but the deadlines for filing petitions passed and Cuomo didn’t act. Since then, associates say, Cuomo has intentionally kept a lower profile—“he spends a lot of time with cars and fish,” one insider says—and has concentrated on repairing the damage to his family. The harassment scandal was particularly painful to his three daughters, a friend says, and subjecting them to another round of ugly headlines was a significant reason Cuomo decided not to make a 2022 bid.

The former governor owns no property, so he has spent many nights at his brother Chris Cuomo’s house in the Hamptons. Cuomo has also bunked at his sister Maria Cuomo Cole’s house in Westchester and in a friend’s apartment in the city. He is hardly a recluse. In June, Cuomo delivered the eulogy at the Connecticut funeral of William O’Shaughnessy, a publisher and longtime Cuomo family friend. On Twitter in late July, he could be seen grinning and posing with his latest piscine trophy, and he’s weighed in on everything from school shootings to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

A tweet this week drew far more attention, though. Cuomo demanded that the federal Department of Justice “immediately explain” the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, claiming that anything less could hurt the credibility of other probes of former president Donald Trump. Cuomo as investigation expert, particularly on the eve of his quitting-in-scandal anniversary, did not go over well with most Twitter commenters. “From the moment he stepped down, he said, ‘I’m not going anywhere, and if I’ve got something to say, I’m going to say it,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi says. “I think the reaction to the recent tweet shows that when he says something, people take notice, and that people want to hear what he has to say.”

At 64, Cuomo’s energy is undiminished; he’s also sitting on $10 million in campaign finance money, according to the most recent disclosures. If Republican Lee Zeldin were to defeat Hochul this fall—which would be a huge upset—Cuomo would be sorely tempted to try to resume his place atop state Democratic politics, though the party doesn’t seem to be pining for his return. Another, less contentious avenue back to influence would be a Cuomo-run Super PAC. “I don’t ever see him taking another job—becoming, like, a CEO of a company,” the friend says. “But I think he’s watching the state of the Democratic Party and the power vacuum and the leadership vacuum. And I just don’t know that I see him sitting it out forever…. I think going into the fall there will start to be activity around him.”

Longtime associates describe Cuomo as more aggrieved than apologetic. “Is he at peace?” one of them asks. “He’s used that phrase, but not in the way you and I would. It means he’s accepted his fate. But there is no peace for him. There never will be. There is such a kind of natural antagonism in the way he views himself that ‘at peace’ means ‘The outcome is what the outcome is. I can’t do anything to change it. But—’ And there’s a big but with him.”

For more than 10 years Cuomo had been the dominant, domineering figure in state politics. He’d risen from a bitter primary defeat in 2002 to reclaim, eight years later, the office his father had held for three terms. Then, during the early months of the COVID pandemic, Cuomo became a national star, before crashing suddenly and spectacularly. He had already been under fire, fighting off charges that he’d massaged the number of coronavirus deaths (in February 2021, Cuomo acknowledged the lack of transparency on nursing home deaths as a mistake, but stopped short of a full apology). But Cuomo’s troubles rapidly accelerated when he became the subject of sexual harassment allegations by 11 women—accusations he has strenuously and continually denied.

On August 10, 2021, a week after New York state attorney general Letitia James released a scathing investigative report, Cuomo sat before a television camera and read a 20-minute speech announcing he would officially resign in 14 days. He spent most of the next eight months deeply engaged in an effort to refute the findings in James’s report. Cuomo’s personal attorney, Rita Glavin, issued her own report and held a series of press conferences disputing the attorney general’s report, and attacking the credibility of some of the women who had accused the governor. Cuomo’s camp argued that James and others had used the sexual harassment allegations to do what his opponents couldn’t do in elections, drive him out of office. The former governor and his legal team also spent time fending off attempts to charge him criminally—a complaint brought by the Albany County sheriff on behalf of a former Cuomo staffer who said she had been groped was dropped by the Albany County district attorney.

Cuomo’s ferocious counteroffensive produced collateral damage, most vividly for his brother, Chris Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo’s lawyer, Glavin, repeatedly called for the attorney general to release transcripts of her witness depositions. When the documents became public they fell well short of clearing Cuomo’s name; instead, they detailed Chris Cuomo’s feverish backchannel attempts to help his brother while Chris Cuomo was hosting a prime-time CNN show. In December the network fired Chris Cuomo, often its highest-rated anchor. “The person who should have the biggest beef with Andrew for pushing to make all that stuff public is his brother,” a former staffer says. “If Andrew had resigned and left quietly, Chris would still be at CNN at nine o’clock right now.”

In July, Chris Cuomo began his comeback by launching a podcast; this fall he’ll return to TV with a show on the obscure NewsNation. His big brother is, for the moment, trying to stay out of the spotlight and stay out of his way. “Nothing’s been harder for him than watching what happened to Chris,” the friend says.

With Chris’s reemergence underway, his older brother may start to get itchy. Andrew Cuomo isn’t completely free of legal hurdles, however. He faces a civil suit from “Trooper 1,” as she was identified in James’s report, a New York state trooper who alleges Cuomo “touched her in intimate locations” — her back and stomach — while she was assigned to his security detail (which he denies). And considering the number of allies Cuomo antagonized, both in his years as governor and on his way out the door, plotting vindication is far easier than achieving it would be. “I don’t know what he’s doing,” another former top Cuomo staffer says. “I really hope it’s nothing.”

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