Top Cuomo Aide Melissa DeRosa Resigns; Who Will Replace the New York Gov. if He Steps Down?

Melissa DeRosa, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top aide, has resigned from her role, she said in a statement on Sunday night. Her resignation comes less than a week after a state attorney general report found the governor had sexually harassed 11 women.

"It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve the people of New York for the past 10 years. New Yorkers' resilience, strength and optimism through the most difficult times has inspired me every day. Personally, the past 2 years has been emotionally and mentally trying. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and committed colleagues on behalf of our state," DeRosa said in a statement.

Melissa DeRosa
Melissa DeRosa became the first woman to serve as secretary to the governor, the state’s highest unelected position, in 2017. Twitter

DeRosa joined Cuomo's administration in 2013, eventually becoming one of the governor's most trusted lieutenants. She became his top aide in 2017, reported AP. She was implicated in the New York Attorney General report in assisting the retaliation against Lindsay Boylan.

During the COVID-19 crisis DeRosa became a regular face at the governor's daily briefings as she spearheaded multiple aspects of New York's pandemic response. However, she had faced scrutiny for her role in withholding data about revealing how many people living at nursing homes died of COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to New York Daily News.

Kathy Hochul to Replace Cuomo?

Meanwhile, there are wide-spread calls for Cuomo's resignation also after he was found guilty of sexually harassing about a dozen. This has shifted the spotlight on Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is the first in line to succeed the embattled governor if he resigns or is removed from office. If Cuomo steps down or is forced out, Hochul, 62, will take his place, becoming the first woman to lead New York State.

Kathy Hochul
If Andrew Cuomo Leaves Office, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul Would Become Next New York Governor Twitter

Hochul has reportedly prepared for a potential takeover. She told people that she believed that as the first in line of succession, she could be called on to take over Cuomo's role anytime over the next few weeks, people familiar with the matter said, according to Wall Street Journal.

Hochul has been serving as lieutenant governor of New York since 2015. She served as the US representative for New York's 26th congressional district from 2011 to 2013. The Democrat from western New York once served in Congress but has a limited public profile in the state. She once also represented Cuomo all over the state but is now slamming his alleged predatory behavior as "repulsive."

However, Hochul has never been part of Cuomo's inner circle of aides. Her name wasn't mentioned in the investigative report, released by Attorney General Letitia James, that detailed not only the harassment allegations against Cuomo but also efforts by his staff to discredit some of his accusers, according to AP.

Cuomo is facing the biggest political crisis of his career following the release of AG James' independent report last Tuesday, which found credible allegations of sexual harassment by 11 different accusers. Several New York Democratic lawmakers are gearing up to move forward with impeachment proceedings. Amid this came the most powerful statement came from President Joe Biden: "I think he should resign," the President said.