Cuomo Disputes A.G. Report: ‘That Is Just Not Who I Am’
Speaking from Albany shortly after the release of the Attorney General’s report into the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended his behavior towards women on Tuesday, reiterating his claim that he “didn’t ‘never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate advances.
Claiming that the whirlwind of allegations marked a painful time for his family, Cuomo suggested the report was biased and politically motivated, saying “the facts are very different from what has been described.”
“I have lived all my adult life in public”, Mr. Cuomo said, in remarks which seemed to have been recorded. “It’s just not who I am, and it’s not who I have ever been.”
As he has before, Mr. Cuomo has defended his actions by saying he often hugs people, kisses them on the cheek or takes their faces in his hands.
As he spoke, he presented as evidence a slide show of photographs that showed him kissing and touching the faces of family members, elected officials and political supporters from various walks of life.
“I do it with everyone,” Cuomo said, also noting that his gestures were “intended to impart warmth, nothing more.”
He also admitted that he sometimes made jokes or called women a “sweetheart”, “sweetheart” or “sweetheart”, although he did not call this behavior inappropriate, only saying that there were different “generational or cultural” views on such behavior.
The governor defended his office by describing it as a high-pressure and demanding workplace, but not a toxic or sexually hostile environment. “My office is not a typical 9 to 5 government office,” he said.
But Mr Cuomo has sought to deflect accusations that key staff in his office, many of them women, contributed to an abusive work culture, saying the allegations were sexist.
“A strong male manager is respected and rewarded,” said Mr. Cuomo, who has himself been accused of intimidating assistants and elected officials. “But a strong female manager is ridiculed and stereotyped. It’s a double standard. “
Unlike Ms James, Mr Cuomo did not answer questions from the media. He said a document prepared by his personal lawyer refuting each of the women’s allegations would be posted on the governor’s website.
But Mr Cuomo responded directly and at some length to the allegations of two women: Charlotte Bennett, who was the second former assistant to publicly accuse Mr Cuomo of harassment, and an anonymous executive assistant who said Mr Cuomo groped her. in the Executive Mansion in Albany.
Ms Bennett accused Mr Cuomo of asking inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she was monogamous in previous relationships and whether she had ever had sex with older men. She also said the governor asked her if she thought age made a difference in relationships and told her he was open to relationships with women in their twenties – comments she interpreted as unwanted sexual advances.
As he has already done, Mr Cuomo in his remarks on Tuesday said Ms Bennett had told him about being a sexual assault survivor – something she had been open about – and that he had tried to get her provide support and help.
Ms Bennett’s experience resonated with Mr Cuomo, he said, because he had a family member who had survived a sexual assault in high school. Mr Cuomo had felt powerless to help this relative, whom he did not name, and Ms Bennett, he said, “brought everything back”
Understanding the scandals that challenge Governor Cuomo’s leadership
Mr Cuomo said he hoped he could use his past experience to help Ms Bennett overcome the trauma of her abuse. “I asked him questions that I don’t normally ask people,” he said.
The governor said his efforts may have been inappropriate and fall short of his intentions. But he also defended his comments by saying Ms Bennett and her lawyer misunderstood his questions and his motives.
“They read the comments I made and draw inferences that I never meant to say. They attribute to me motives that I never had. And put simply, they heard things I just didn’t say, ”Cuomo said.
Ms Bennett, in response, criticized Mr Cuomo’s comments, saying he appeared to “blame the victim”, pointing to his story as a way to justify his behavior.
Her remarks, she said, suggested that the governor “was not operating in reality and at this point it is irrelevant.”
Of the anonymous assistant, Mr Cuomo said, as he has done in the past, that the incident “never happened”. He noted that the woman’s attorney had suggested she could take legal action, and Mr Cuomo said he welcomed the opportunity to present his case to court.
“A trial by newspapers or biased critics,” he said, was not the way to address his claims.
Mr Cuomo also said he had asked an expert to design a new sexual harassment training program for himself and his office. The governor did not respond to the accusation that one of his key staff had already taken such training, required by state law, in 2019 on his behalf.
One of his lawyers has already denied this allegation. But attorney general investigators said one of Mr. Cuomo’s assistants admitted to signing Mr. Cuomo’s name on the form attesting that he had taken the training that year.
#Cuomo #Disputes #Report