Cuomo allegations leave Democrats grappling with response

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In this Feb. 25, 2021, photo, President Joe Biden listens as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., speaks during a virtual meeting of the National Governors Association, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus in Washington. The Democratic governor is struggling through a sexual harassment scandal thats testing the limits of his partys support as Democrats grapple with their first political crisis of the post-Trump era.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

NEW YORK – Democrats across the country celebrated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the face of governing competence as President Donald Trump fumbled his administration's response to the exploding pandemic last year.

Now, the Democratic governor is struggling through a sexual harassment scandal that's testing the limits of his party's support as Democrats grapple with one of the first political headaches of the post-Trump era.

So far, few Democrats have come to Cuomo's rescue. But they haven’t explicitly condemned him, either.

Both of New York's Democratic U.S. senators have publicly embraced the state attorney general's nascent investigation into Cuomo's behavior. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday described the allegations as “deeply troubling and deeply concerning.”

And on Monday, President Joe Biden, a longtime Cuomo ally, declined to stand behind the embattled governor.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president supports the state attorney general's probe. She noted that Biden requires people to be treated with civility and respect in his administration.

“The president's view has been consistent and clear,” Psaki said when asked about Cuomo. “Every woman coming forward should be treated with dignity and respect.”

The scrutiny of Cuomo comes at a delicate moment as Democrats work to project unity and competence in contrast to four years of near-constant scandal and norm-shattering behavior under Trump. Cuomo's scandal also threatens the moral high ground Democrats have sought on issues related to gender and sexual harassment — which are top of mind to many women who abandoned Republicans in droves last fall to help fuel Biden's victory.