New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be questioned in sexual harassment investigation
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to be interviewed Saturday as the state attorney general’s office winds down its investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that upended his national reputation and threatened his hold on power.
The timing of the interview in Albany, the state’s capital, was confirmed to the Associated Press by two people familiar with the investigation. They were not authorized to speak publicly about the case and did so on condition of anonymity.
Investigators were always expected to speak with Cuomo, who said at the start of the probe in March that he would “fully cooperate.” Cuomo, who is expected to run for a fourth term next year, also faces an impeachment inquiry in the state assembly.
Saturday’s interview signals that investigators are nearly done with their work, which has included interviews with the governor’s accusers, although the attorney general’s office may need some time to tie up loose ends before a report is issued.
Several women have accused Cuomo of unwanted kisses, touches and groping and inappropriate sexual remarks.
Cuomo initially apologized and said that he “learned an important lesson” about his behavior around women, although he’s since denied that he did anything wrong and questioned the motivations of accusers and fellow Democrats who’ve called for his resignation.
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Cuomo, in office since 2011, has rebuffed calls to step aside over the allegations.
His popularity has dipped this year: About 62% of voters said in a late June poll by Siena College that Cuomo should resign or not seek reelection. Still, supporters point out that 61% of Democrats in that poll said they have a favorable opinion of him.
A Cuomo spokesperson said Thursday that the governor had no comment. The state attorney general’s office also declined comment.
“We have said repeatedly that the governor doesn’t want to comment on this review until he has cooperated, but the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general’s review,” Cuomo senior advisor Richard Azzopardi said.
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The scheduled interview with Cuomo was reported first by the New York Times.
Former aide Lindsey Boylan accuses Cuomo of having harassed her throughout her employment and said he once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet.
Another former aide, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo once asked if she ever had sex with older men. Bennett’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said Bennett met with investigators for more than four hours via Zoom and also provided them with 120 pages of records to corroborate her accusations.
The investigation into the allegations against Cuomo is being overseen by the state’s independently elected attorney general, Letitia James, who named former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report.
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Azzopardi’s statement Thursday was at least the second time that Cuomo’s top spokesperson has claimed that James, also a Democrat, and her investigation were politically motivated. Azzopardi provided no evidence Thursday that the attorney general had leaked information.
In April, Azzopardi blasted James for confirming that her office was also investigating whether Cuomo broke the law by having staff help write and promote his recent memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
“Both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor, and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest,” Azzopardi said at the time.
Some of Cuomo’s top allies in the state Legislature have called on the public to await the results of James’ investigation and not to undermine her integrity.
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State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, said he trusts the independent investigators selected by James, and said “their credibility and professionalism can’t be questioned.”
“There was a sense from people early on that because the governor was so instrumental in helping her become AG that she would then become responsive to his political needs,” Rivera, the Senate health committee chair, said. “Now she’s proven over and over again that she’s responsible to the people of the state of New York.”
This year’s legislative session has concluded, but lawmakers could return later in the summer or fall if the probe winds up.
The state Assembly’s judiciary committee has launched its own probe into whether there are grounds to impeach the governor on issues including sexual misconduct and his administration’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths among nursing homer residents.
It’s unclear when the Assembly investigation will wrap up, but it’s likely it’ll be after James’ investigation concludes. Boylan has said she wants to speak only with investigators in the attorney general’s probe.
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