New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and then
retaliated against a former employee who complained publicly about his
conduct, according to a bombshell report released Tuesday by state
Attorney General Letitia James.
The monthslong probe concluded that Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple
women and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said at a
press conference. Her office noted, however, that there were no specific
penalties tied to the report.
The 165-page report, which comprises interviews with 179 witnesses and a
review of tens of thousands of documents, also said that Cuomo’s office
was riddled with fear and intimidation and was a hostile work environment
for many staffers.
N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo responds to charges he harassed multiple women,
created toxic work environment
Cuomo harassed members of his own staff, members of the public and other
state employees, one of whom was a state trooper on his protective detail,
the report alleges. He engaged in nonconsensual touching, groping, kissing
and hugging, and made inappropriate comments toward numerous women,
according to the report.
It also concluded that the governor’s denials “lack credibility” and were
“inconsistent with the weight of the evidence” gathered throughout the
A somber but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of the allegations against
him later Tuesday, and said that other examples of his alleged misconduct
had been mischaracterized or misinterpreted.
Fmr. acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim: A pattern of behavior with Gov. Cuomo
The findings reveal “a deeply disturbing, yet clear, picture,” James said,
describing Cuomo’s office as “a toxic workplace.”
The announcement came about two weeks after Cuomo was interviewed by
investigators retained by James’ office for the probe. Cuomo was
reportedly questioned for 11 hours.
Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins reiterated
her prior calls for Cuomo to resign. “It should be clear to everyone that
he can no longer serve as Governor,” she said in a statement.
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for two accusers, Alyssa McGrath and Virginia
Limmiatis, said in a statement, “Cuomo’s misogyny and abuse cannot be
“He has been doing this for years, without any repercussions. He should
not be in charge of our government and should not be in any position of
power over anyone else,” Wang’s statement said.
Debra Katz, an attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, echoed
Wang, saying Cuomo and other complicit staff “must resign immediately.”
“If he does not, the New York State Assembly must accept the Attorney
General’s findings and begin taking the appropriate steps to remove him
from office,” Katz said in a statement.
The probe into numerous women’s allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo
began in March, after the state’s executive chamber granted James’ request
Later that same month, dozens of Democratic state lawmakers — including
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom Cuomo has long had a fraught
relationship — urged the governor to resign.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat, in mid-March
authorized a panel to launch an impeachment investigation into the
harassment claims and other allegations of wrongdoing by Cuomo, including
whether his staff tried to hide or alter data on coronavirus deaths in New
York nursing homes.
Cuomo has defended himself against all the allegations and has repeatedly
rebuffed calls for his resignation, though he has apologized for making
some women feel uncomfortable.
“I never harassed anyone, I never assaulted anyone, I never abused
anyone,” Cuomo said in March. “I’m not going to resign.”
In a video statement shared later Tuesday after the report came out, Cuomo
maintained that “the facts are much different than what has been
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual
advances,” Cuomo said. “I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life
in public view. That is just not who I am.”
Cuomo said that some of his behaviors included in the report, such as
cupping a woman’s face in his hands in an embrace, were only ever meant to
convey warmth. “I am the same person in public as I am in private,” he
But “I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspective
that frankly I hadn’t fully appreciated, and I have learned form this,”
Cuomo added. He said he had brought in an expert to design new sexual
harassment policy and procedures, and that the whole team, himself
included, would be re-trained.
Cuomo also asserted that “politics and bias are interwoven throughout
every aspect this investigation.”
“One would be naïve to think otherwise, and New Yorkers are not naïve,” he
Cuomo told her he was lonely, and wanted to be touched: Attorney Anne
President Joe Biden has previously said that Cuomo should resign if the
allegations against him are confirmed by the investigation. The White
House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cuomo still had the backing of multiple New York business leaders going
into the release of the report. His reelection campaign raised over $2
million on the backs of the executives, including big donations from real
estate executive Stephen Ross and Laurance Rockefeller Jr., a member of
the ultrawealthy Rockefeller family.
It’s unclear if those executives will still support him going forward.
Cuomo has previously suggested that the probe was not being conducted in
an independent manner, and members of his staff have noted that James
could be a potential future gubernatorial candidate in New York.
James at the presser said she was offended by the efforts to undercut and
discredit the investigation.
“I believe women. And I believe all of these 11 women,” James said.
The report reveals that Cuomo’s younger brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo,
was interviewed by investigators.
“During his testimony, Chris Cuomo explained that there was discussion
about remedial measures the [Executive] Chamber should take in light of
the sexual harassment allegations, but some people had taken the position
that ‘they should just wait,’” the report says.
The report also says, “According to internal documents and communications
obtained during the investigation, it appears that the Governor’s
advisors, including Mr. Pollock and Chris Cuomo, counseled him to express
contrition after the press published Ms. Bennett’s allegations.”
The document also details calls to Democratic county executives made by
New York’s Covid-19 vaccine czar, Larry Schwartz, gauging whether they
thought the governor should resign. The calls were made at the request of
top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, according to the report.
— CNBC’s Brian Schwartz and Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.
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