The fall of Andrew Cuomo: From possible 2020 presidential candidate to sex charge
Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle reports on the latest.
Andrew Cuomo’s advisers stepped up their criticism of New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday following the release of interview transcripts and exhibits from the state’s probe of sexual harassment allegations against the disgraced former governor.
The first batch of documents from the independent investigation, which the attorney general’s office oversaw, included testimony from Cuomo and 10 women who accused him of sexual harassment or misconduct. James’ office noted documents from the probe would be released on a rolling basis “pending redactions to protect the privacy of individuals, as appropriate.”
Cuomo’s advisers have repeatedly pushed for the release of transcripts and other evidence from the investigation. But Cuomo’s longtime spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, criticized the decision to redact portions of the documents and called on James to answer a list of questions regarding the investigation.
“Finally — after three months for stalling — Tish James has been forced to release transcripts as more and more people are questioning her shoddy and politically motivated report,” Azzopardi said in a statement. “However, these transcripts include questionable redactions and raise even more questions about key omissions made during this slanted process, which reeks of prosecutorial misconduct.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a media briefing June 12, 2020 in New York City.
(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
“This was clearly done to change the subject, but the attorney general needs to answer the following questions,” Azzopardi added.
The independent investigation concluded Cuomo sexually harassed or groped at least 11 women, including current and former state employees, during his time in office. Cuomo resigned in August as lawmakers prepared to impeach him in response to the report’s findings.
Cuomo has maintained his innocence and argued the allegations against him are politically motivated. In October, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple filed a misdemeanor forcible touching complaint against Cuomo for allegedly groping former executive assistant Brittany Commisso.
Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, also criticized James’ office over its handling of the released transcripts, accusing the attorney general of “deliberately harm[ing] a pending case.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
“The attorney general’s slow-rolling and selective disclosure to the world now of the 41 transcribed interviews (out of the 179 people interviewed and 74,000 documents collected) is obvious: The AG wants to prejudice people against the governor while the criminal charge unilaterally initiated by Sheriff Apple is pending and distract from the AG’s misleading and unreliable report,” Glavin said.
The documents provide the most complete view to date on the independent investigation that preceded Cuomo’s resignation. Aside from the harassment allegations, including claims of unwanted touching or kissing, Cuomo was accused of fostering a toxic workplace culture.
Cuomo remained adamant in his denial of wrongdoing throughout his interview with investigators. One of the most heated exchanges occurred when former acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, who helped lead the investigation, pressed Cuomo to respond to the allegation that he groped Commisso.
“I would have to lose my mind to do some … such a thing,” Cuomo said in response. “It would be an act of insanity to touch a woman’s breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation. I am 63 years old. I have been in every public office, state, federal. Numerous people have tried to set me up. I’m always wary of people. I have phenomenal precautions. It would be an act of insanity.”
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York’s Yankee Stadium July 26, 2021. A lawyer for the former governor wants the sheriff who charged him with groping a woman to preserve records of any communications his office has had with the alleged victim, journalists or other investigators.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Near the end of his testimony, Cuomo appeared to express his annoyance with being interviewed.
“I would like to say it was a pleasure, Mr. Kim. But I’m under oath,” Cuomo said.
James’ office released testimony and exhibits related to ten Cuomo accusers, some of whom are current or former state employees: Commisso, Charlotte Bennett, Lindsey Boylan, a woman identified as “Kaitlin,” Virginia Limmiatis, Ana Liss, Alyssa McGrath, State Entity Employee No. 1, State Entity Employee No. 2 and Trooper No. 1.
During her testimony, Commisso alleged Cuomo began to hug her tightly “in a way that I felt was obviously uncomfortable for me and he was maybe trying to get some sort of personal satisfaction from it.”
She also described an incident during which Cuomo purportedly grabbed her breast during an encounter in the governor’s mansion in November 2020, which served as the basis for the criminal complaint against the ex-governor.
Another Cuomo accuser, the New York state trooper assigned to his protective detail, told investigators the former governor would often be “flirtatious.”
“He tried to be flirtatious,” the trooper said. “A lot of times, it came off creepy.”
The trooper’s testimony also included an account of a September 2019 incident during which Cuomo allegedly put his hand on her stomach while she held a door open for him, leaving her feeling “completely violated.”
James did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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