Transcript: New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul on “Face the Nation”

The following is a transcript of an interview with New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul that aired on Sunday, August 15, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”


NANCY CORDES: For months now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been mired in scandal on multiple fronts from an investigation into nursing home COVID deaths to an attorney general report that found he sexually harassed 11 women. Last week, Cuomo announced he’s stepping down later this month. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will take over. She’ll be the first female governor in New York’s history and she joins us this morning from Buffalo. Good morning, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you for joining us. And I want to ask you about your takeover. Governor Cuomo leaving office in a week and a half. Can you tell us how that transition is going? Are you getting the cooperation you need from him as you prepare to take over?

NEW YORK LT. GOV. KATHY HOCHUL: Well, thank you for having me on the show this morning and yes, I’m prepared. That’s the job of every lieutenant governor in this country to be prepared on day one. I’ve been lieutenant governor for seven years, the longest serving lieutenant governor in the state, in the country. And I’m prepared and I have a team assembled. We’re working on transition. I’m excited about the challenges, but they’re very significant. But I am up to the task. I know the state better than anyone. I’ve met more people. I have stronger relationships. And I’ve championed the important causes and issues for the last seven years. So I’m- I’m prepared. And also the transition is going well. Yes, we’re getting cooperation on the administration, which is what the governor promised me.

NANCY CORDES: And are you getting cooperation from the governor himself? Are you in communication with him?

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: We have been in communication with his team and certainly he’s made himself available, if I have any questions, yes.

NANCY CORDES: Got it. I want to ask you about his fairly defiant new interview. In it, he said this about his decision to step down, quote, “I’m not going to drag the state through the mud through a three-month, four-month impeachment and then win and have made the state legislature and the state government look like a ship of fools when everything I’ve done all my life was for the exact opposite.” This doesn’t sound like someone who thinks that he’s done anything wrong.

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: Well, I’m not going to try to get into the head of the governor and understand, you know, his motivation for saying when he does. That’s not what my role is. My role is to have a smooth transition and to hit the ground running literally in a matter of days. So I’ve got a lot of weighty challenges. I’m reaching out to the experts and elected officials and we’re going to stay focused. I will have no distractions in my administration because we focused on doing what’s best for the people of the state.

NANCY CORDES: Your name does not appear in the 165-page attorney general’s report about Governor Cuomo. And I know you’ve made it clear that you are not close with him, but there is at least one New York lawmaker, Ron Kim, who’s suggesting that you turn over your emails to prove that you were unaware of Como’s misconduct at the time. Would you be willing to do that?

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: It’s hard to prove a negative because I’ve had no communication along those lines, but I believe in transparency and we’ll evaluate- evaluate all requests. But it is no secret that the governor and I were not close. But I did support the legacy of progressive accomplishments, which are outstanding. And my role as lieutenant governor was not to be in those rooms or spend much time in the Capitol, but to really be out speaking to New Yorkers and championing issues like child care and paid family leave and higher wages. And I’m going to continue doing that. I’m going to continue focusing outside of the state capital when I get those- those duties underway, but also to get out there and keep listening to people, because I- my style is very different than the governor’s. I think that’s pretty obvious. And my style is very collaborative. It’s thoughtful. I will listen to people, but then I will take very decisive action.

NANCY CORDES: You have said that your heart goes out to the women who were allegedly harassed by Governor Cuomo. Have you spoken to any of them?

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: When I’m governor, I’m going to determine the best action to take. But I know that they feel welcome to stay in the administration. If they’re here, I want them to know that the culture will be changed 1000% and not just them, who I will have conversations with, but also all women. I want every young woman, just like I was a high school assembly intern, to realize that this is a place where they have a role. We need their voices. We need that diversity. We’re getting there. We’re making progress on more elected women. But I want by the end of my administration, for every woman to say there are no barriers, there is no longer a ceiling. We’re looking forward and making sure that my reputation and the reputation of my administration is one that is completely ethical. That is how I’ve conducted my life since I’ve been an elected official, 27 years, and also just let people know it’s a whole new era now. And I’m excited about this.

NANCY CORDES: But you have said you’re going to be fully transparent about the nursing home scandal and that you will turn over data. When are you planning to release that data? Are you going to do it on day one once you become governor?

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: I’m not going to raise expectations that I have those documents in my hand on day one. What I have done already is meet with the commissioner of health and we’ll be talking about what- what any outstanding requests for data are out in the- in the realm. I will look at those and have my team focus on this early on. But I have to tell you, on day one, I’m focused on COVID. We have to deal with the fact that the rates are rising. I want to get money out to people. We have way too much money sitting there that should be going to renters and to landlords who are suffering. And I also want to get the money out for the excluded worker program where people who are immigrants aren’t getting any money because they’re not documented and that money is sitting there unspent. And I want to get it out to them immediately. So I’ve got a lot of priorities, but I will absolutely make sure that my administration fully cooperates with requests for data.

NANCY CORDES: And finally, have you chosen who your lieutenant governor is going to be?

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: A lot of people are interested. I would say there’s a lot of energy and excitement. I’ve narrowed it down in terms of the geographic area of the state to New York City, because I am Upstater even though I’ve spent thousands of hours in New York City and I’m well familiar with the challenges, but I want someone who lives there. I want someone who understands the- the challenges firsthand. So I’ll have a very diverse administration, but also excited about the prospect of having a true partnership with a lieutenant governor who I bring- I believe will bring a lot to the table. So that’ll be announced shortly after I’m sworn in. 

NANCY CORDES: Well, we’ll be watching. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul of New York, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

LT. GOV. HOCHUL: Thank you for having me on the show.

NANCY CORDES: And we’ll be back in a moment.