Defiant ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo turned a Brooklyn church appearance into a 25-minute gripe session Sunday in which he again blamed “cancel culture,” the media and “political sharks” driving him out of office.
In his first public appearance since resigning last year, the accused serial sexual harasser whined about his explosive scandal to about 150 congregants at God’s Battalion of Prayer in East Flatbush, calling it “probably the toughest time of my life.”
“As you probably know, I’ve gone through a difficult period the past few months. I resigned as governor, the press roasted me, my colleagues were ridiculed, my brother was fired, ”he said on the first Sunday of Lent. “It was ugly.”
“It was probably the toughest time of my life, and it was probably the first time that I was glad my father wasn’t here with us anymore, so he did not have to see,” he added, referring to his late father and former three-term governor of New York, Mario Cuomo.
During his speech, which prompted verbal affirmations from those gathered at the church, Cuomo groused incessantly about “cancel culture,” using the word “cancel” no less than 25 times.
“My father, God rests his soul, used to say government is an honorable profession but that politics can be a dirty business,” he said. “Now that is especially true today when the politics out there is so mean and so extreme, when even the Democratic Party chooses to cancel people that they have a disagreement with.”
Cuomo – who has been accused of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by several women – also repeated points from his resignation speech he delivered in August, insisting that he had not “appreciated” changing norms in the workplace.
“My behavior has been the same for 40 years in public life. … But that was actually the problem. Because for some people, especially younger people, there’s a new sensitivity. No one ever told me I made them feel uncomfortable. I never sensed that I caused anyone discomfort. I was trying to do the exact opposite, ”said Cuomo.
“But I’ve been called old-fashioned, out-of-touch, and I’ve been told my behavior was not politically correct or appropriate. I accept that. Social norms evolve and they evolve quickly, ”he added. “But I did not appreciate how fast their perspective changed. And I should have.
Cuomo added that he is “truly, truly sorry” and that he “learned a powerful lesson.”
Still, the former governor went on to fume about State Attorney General Letitia James’ probe that concluded he sexually harassed 11 women, including executive staffers and a state trooper – while insisting that he never did anything illegal.
Contrary to what my political opponents would have you believe, nothing I did violated the law or the regulations. I said from the start that I would defend any allegation that anyone wanted to bring, but the political sharks in Albany smelled blood. And then the sharks smell blood, then come, ”he said. “And they exploited the situation for their political purpose.”
Later in the speech, Cuomo, who stepped down from office amid the threat of impeachment, complained, “They used cancel culture to effectively overturn an election,” referring to his 2018 election victory.
Quipped a former Cuomo staffer of the Sunday appearance, “It’s nice of him to be in a church, but he should really try confession first.”
But some parishioners told The Post they appreciated Cuomo’s speech.
“I always believed in our governor, because he was a great leader,” said Stephanie Jeffrey, 69. “He exemplified the character of the person he should be and the person he is at this present time.”
Afterward, Cuomo praised the “good people” at the Brooklyn house of worship, noting that his appearance falls on the first day of Lent.
The disgraced pol, who provided no hint about this political future during his speech, remained tight-lipped when asked by a reporter if he’ll run for office.
“I said what I said today, and that’s all I’m going to say today,” he said before driving away in a white BMW.
On Monday, Cuomo launched a TV ad in which he claimed he had been exonerated from the sexual harassment allegations. The 30-second “Politics Vs. The Law ”ad displays snippets from TV reports about recent decisions by five district attorneys to not bring criminal charges against him, while taking aim at the AG probe.
But cleaning up his image will be an uphill battle.
But a poll released last month showed a majority of voters believe he is a serial sexual harasser. A total of 58 percent of New York voters believe Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women while serving as governor, compared to just 21 percent of respondents who believed he was innocent, according to the Siena College survey.
And just 33 percent of New York voters viewed Cuomo favorably compared to 60 percent who gave him a thumbs down, according to a poll released in October.
The Democratic former chief executive – who has also faced scrutiny at the end of his tenure for profiting from his use of state resources to write his pandemic memoir and misleading the public and federal regulators over COVID-linked nursing home deaths – has also recently been spotted at a pair of tête-à-têtes with other local pols.
He dined with Mayor Eric Adams in early February and last week with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The Manhattan meals came as Cuomo and his team had begun “intensifying an effort to revive his public standing,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Feb. 6.
In an interview published the next day, Cuomo expressed regret for resigning over the sexual harassment allegations against him – and defiantly claimed that he has been “vindicated” by the court of public opinion.
He also told Bloomberg News that if he were able to do it over again, he would not quit the way he did while facing a likely impeachment last summer.
Additional reporting by Tina Moore