5 Things to Know About the Cuomo Sexual Harassment Findings

5 Things to Know About the Cuomo Sexual Harassment Findings
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5 Things to Know About the Cuomo Sexual Harassment Findings

5 Things to Know About the Cuomo Sexual Harassment Findings

Andrew M. Cuomo’s future as governor of New York is uncertain after the state attorney general released a report on Tuesday revealing that he sexually harassed 11 women, including nine current and former employees, in violation of federal and state law.

Here are some takeaways from the report and a look at how its findings can shape Mr. Cuomo’s fate.

The 165-page report, released by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, provided corroborating evidence for eight accusers whose stories were already known, most of them current or former state employees. But he also detailed three previously unreported accounts of sexual harassment by the governor.

In one case, Mr. Cuomo allegedly harassed an anonymous state soldier he had personally sought to hire for his protection team. She said he ran his hand over her stomach when she opened the door for him at an event; had run his finger behind his back in an elevator; and asked her why she wasn’t wearing a dress, among other incidents.

In another incident, the governor allegedly ran two fingers across the chest of an energy company employee, Virginia Limmiatis, and then brushed her hand in the area below her neck. And in the latest unreported allegation, the governor allegedly grabbed the back of an anonymous employee of an entity affiliated with New York State.

Mr Cuomo did not address the new charges in a pre-recorded video statement where he denied most of the report’s serious findings, reiterating his claim that he had never touched anyone inappropriately. Rita Glavin, counsel for Mr. Cuomo, called the report “unfair” and “inaccurate”.

“The investigators conducted a totally biased investigation and deliberately ignored evidence inconsistent with the narrative they sought to weave,” she said in a written response.

When the first wave of accusations against the governor emerged, a chorus of Democratic politicians called for his ouster. But some of his closest supporters have reserved judgment, including perhaps the most influential: President Biden.

Prior to becoming president, Mr. Biden was one of Mr. Cuomo’s most trusted allies. At media events, he often praised the governor’s work on infrastructure. Mr. Cuomo was an early supporter of Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign. The Governor attended the vigil for Mr. Biden’s son, Beau, and the President attended the vigil for Mr. Cuomo’s father, Mario.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also avoided joining the initial rush of those urging the governor to step down.

Mr Cuomo’s family ties with Ms Pelosi date back to at least 1980, when she and Mario Cuomo visited Italy after an earthquake left thousands dead there. In 1984, Ms. Pelosi chaired the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, where Mario Cuomo gave his famous Tale of Two Cities speech.

On Tuesday, Ms Pelosi and Mr Biden broke up with Mr Cuomo and called on him to resign.

Mr. Cuomo appears reluctant to voluntarily relinquish power. But it is difficult to rule without allies.

And Tuesday night, Mr. Cuomo had few supporters left other than those in his service. Both leaders of the state legislature urged him to resign. Just like every member of the New York Congressional Democratic delegation.

“He has no partner at any level of government, including the country’s top Democrat,” said MP Ron Kim, one of the first Democrats to demand Mr. Cuomo’s resignation. “Right now we have a cadre who are primarily concerned with saving themselves.”

The report could leave Mr Cuomo exposed to criminal charges, a point underscored by a disclosure that the Albany County prosecutor was conducting a criminal investigation into the allegations.

In a statement Tuesday, District Attorney David Soares said his office was reviewing the attorney general’s report in an “ongoing criminal investigation” and had requested investigative documents from the office of Mrs. James. He also encouraged other victims to contact his office directly.

It was not known when Mr. Soares initiated his investigation or exactly what behavior he was investigating. A spokeswoman for her office, Cecilia Walsh, said only that the office was investigating “any allegation which could reach the level of criminal conduct.”

In addition, criminal charges related to sexual harassment require a high standard of proof and can be difficult for prosecutors to lay.

But the prospect of a charge, or charges, on top of any civil lawsuits Mr Cuomo may face based on the details of the report will certainly complicate the governor’s candidacy for re-election next year and could jeopardize his success. ability to govern.

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The investigation also detailed the frantic efforts by Mr. Cuomo and his team to unearth the dirt on the women who accused him of sexual harassment, as well as the attorneys investigating the allegations.

On the same day Lindsey Boylan became the first person to go public with her story last December, Mr. Cuomo’s aides sent reporters copies of confidential documents in his personal file showing colleagues complained about his behavior. , revealed the investigation.

A senior adviser, Richard Azzopardi, personally drafted the documents with Wite-Out before sending them to reporters.

Mr. Cuomo then wrote an op-ed that attacked Ms. Boylan and cited what he claimed to be her interactions with other men; eventually, he decided not to publish the play.

Senior governor officials even pressured former employees to secretly record phone calls with Ms Boylan and another accuser, identified in the report as Kaitlin, “potentially in the hope of obtaining further information. to be used against any woman who might speak out, ”the survey found.

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“I don’t think it went well,” the governor’s senior assistant, Melissa DeRosa, said of the effort, according to the report.

Mr. Cuomo and his allies haven’t just targeted women who accused him of harassment; they also attacked investigators.

On March 16, Steven Cohen, a former senior governor official, texted another former employee, claiming he had been asked to broadcast opposition research on Joon Kim, one of the lawyers who conducted the investigation of Mr. Cuomo.

In his interview with investigators, Mr Cohen said he did not recall being asked to research the opposition. Nonetheless, in the weeks leading up to Tuesday, Mr. Cuomo’s allies regularly attacked Mr. Kim as being biased.

As Mr. Cuomo resists calls for the resignation of the nation’s three main Democrats, as well as every Democratic member of the New York Congressional delegation, there remains one path to impeach Mr. Cuomo: impeachment.

This puts the ball squarely in the court of Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, whose legislature is empowered to initiate impeachment proceedings.

On Tuesday, Mr Heastie met with members of the Assembly, who seemed virtually united in their desire to move forward with impeachment.

Prior to the release of Tuesday’s report, the Assembly had conducted an investigation to determine whether impeachment was an appropriate next step.

On Tuesday evening, Mr. Heastie called for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation and promised to conclude the impeachment inquiry “as quickly as possible.”

This suggests that impeachment may in fact be in sight.

At this point, it would be “impossible” for the Assembly to do anything other than impeach, according to Amy Paulin, an MP for Westchester.

“The governor must resign, and if he does not resign, we in the Assembly must move forward with the impeachment process,” Ms. Paulin said.

But according to someone familiar with the process, it could take up to a month for the ongoing investigation to conclude. At this point, the momentum to remove Mr. Cuomo from office may have waned.

J. David Goodman and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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