Editor’s Note: Story will continue to be updated throughout the day as additional details unfold.
UPDATE 6:00 PM 8/3/21: After long maintaining his silence on the accusations against fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo, President Joe Biden joined the growing bipartisan chorus in calling for the New York governor to resign.
Biden offered a characteristically muddled response when pressed by reporters, but the message came through clearly that Cuomo should not look to the White House for support.
Reporter: “Are you now calling on [Governor Cuomo] to resign?”
President Biden: “Yes.” pic.twitter.com/05qrP2f32u
— The Hill (@thehill) August 3, 2021
“He should resign. I understand the state legislature may decide to impeach, I do not know that for a fact.”
Biden, himself, has been subjected to numerous accusations of sexual impropriety—up to and including the assault of a former Senate staffer, Tara Reade.
As with Cuomo, many Democrats looked the other way during campaign season. The far-left New York Times claimed to have conducted a thorough investigation and found little credibility to the claims.
But the credible testimony of female victims, and evidence including publicly available footage, suggests otherwise.
Ironically, a dozen congressional Democrats in issuing an earlier call for Cuomo to resign, pointed out that the governor had also been on the accusatory side, demanding another elected official resign under similar circumstances:
“We note with interest Governor Cuomo’s own May 17, 2013 statement calling on Assembly Member Vito Lopez to ‘resign, effective immediately’ when the Assembly investigation announced its findings: ‘there should be a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and we must now send a clear message that this behavior is not tolerated,’” wrote the congressional Democrats in their statement. “We agree.”
It appears as though Chris Cuomo helped craft Gov. Cuomo’s Feb. 28 statement responding to the Bennett allegations. pic.twitter.com/EYII4yZY1J
— Alex Weprin (@alexweprin) August 3, 2021
Additional details on the brothers’ collusion are available here.
UPDATE 2:00 PM 8/3/21: US Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, released a statement in response to the state attorney general’s explosive report and press conference about Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s alleged sexual harassment
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” said the press release. “Today’s report from the New York State Attorney General substantiated and corroborated the allegations of the brave women who came forward to share their stories—and we commend the women for doing so.”
The two commended state Attorney General Letitia James and her staff for leading the probe into what they called a pattern of abuse by Cuomo.
They reiterated that they already had called for the fellow Democrat to resign in March.
“No elected official is above the law,” they said in the statement. “The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office. We continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
A litany of other state and federal elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, released statements expressing similar sentiments, including New York’s GOP congresswomen: Claudia Tenney, Nicole Malliotakis and Elise Stefanik.
“The independent investigation led by the Attorney General’s office confirms Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women, including employees in his office and state troopers” said Stefanik in her statement.
“The media and Democrats smeared me and closed ranks to protect Cuomo, a shameful chapter in New York history,” she continued. “All of them including his staff must be held to account. These brave women deserve swift and definitive justice.”
A dozen of New York’s Democrat congressional leaders—including Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez—also issued a joint statement:
“Sexual harassment is an extremely serious transgression, and we stand with the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences working for and around Governor Andrew Cuomo,” they said. “It is clear that he engaged in inappropriate, unlawful and abusive behavior.”
Cuomo has yet to face any criminal action or consequences, although a separate investigation by the state legislature is ongoing.
James said individual jurisdictions could use their discretion in determining whether additional charges were warranted, and that one police report was known to have been filed.
UPDATE 1:21 PM 8/3/21: Cuomo delivered a rebuttal address to New Yorkers about sexual harassment allegations.
The Democrat leader downplayed his overly affectionate treatment of both female staffers and others who came into his orbit, claiming he intended to “convey warmth, nothing more.”
In his barrage of excuses, Cuomo said he had violated the personal space of hundreds—young and old, men and women, gay and straight—during the course of his political career.
“I don’t remember doing it, but I’m sure that I did,” he said of one accusation that occurred at an office party. “… On occasion I do slip and say ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’ or ‘honey.'”
Additional details about the rebuttal available here.
(Associated Press) An investigation into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found that he sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
“Specifically, the investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York State employees by engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive sexual nature, that created a hostile work environment for women,” James said at a press conference on Tuesday.
On at least one occasion, the investigation found, Cuomo and his senior staff worked to retaliate against a former employee who accused him of wrongdoing. Cuomo was also found to have harassed women outside of government, the investigation found.
Cuomo faced multiple allegations last winter that he inappropriately touched and sexually harassed women who worked with him or who he met at public events. One aide in his office said he groped her breast.
Another, Lindsey Boylan, said Cuomo kissed her on the lips after a meeting in his office and “would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”
After Boylan first made her allegations public in December, the Cuomo administration undercut her story by releasing personnel memos to media outlets revealing that Boylan resigned after she was confronted about complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff.
Boylan has said those records “were leaked to the media in an effort to smear me.”
Other aides have said that the Democratic governor asked them unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating. One former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she was open to sex with an older man.
Thus far, Cuomo refused to quit and has been raising money for a fourth term in office. In recent months, he’s taken a more combative tack, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the motives of accusers and critics.
He has also questioned the neutrality of the lawyers hired by the attorney general to investigate the allegations. One of the attorneys, Joon Kim, was involved in previous investigations of corruption by people in Cuomo’s administration when he was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. Cuomo hasn’t expressly said why he believes that would make Kim biased.
The attorney general’s report is expected to play an important role in an ongoing inquiry in the state Assembly into whether there are grounds for Cuomo to be impeached.
The Assembly hired its own legal team to investigate Cuomo’s conduct, plus other allegations of wrongdoing. The legislature is looking into the help Cuomo got from senior aides to write a book about the pandemic, special access that Cuomo relatives got to COVID-19 testing last year, and the administration’s decision to withhold some data on nursing home deaths from the public for several months.
Some members of the judiciary committee have said they expect James’ report to be “critical” for the impeachment investigation.
New York state regulations say sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature — from unwanted flirtation to sexual jokes — that creates an offensive work environment, regardless of a perpetrator’s intent.
Cuomo’s office has said he took the state’s mandated sexual harassment training, but has not provided any documentation proving he did.
Cuomo championed a landmark 2019 state law that made it easier for sexual harassment victims to prove their case in court. Alleged victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving sexual harassment is “severe and pervasive.”