Cuomo sexual harassment investigation: What we know and what's next

Thursday, August 5, 2021
Lawmakers give Cuomo deadline in impeachment probe
The New York States Assembly judiciary Committee is giving Governor Andrew Cuomo one more week to submit any additional evidence.

NEW YORK -- Calls for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign are growing after Attorney General Letitia James' damning report detailing allegations of sexual harassment made by 11 women, many of whom have worked for him.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he believes Cuomo should step down, a sentiment echoed by top Democrats across the state and nation.

Cuomo, once widely beloved for his telegenic response to the coronavirus pandemic, continues to deny the allegations and maintains he isn't going anywhere -- but his political future might soon be out of his own hands.

Here are the latest headlines and what we know:

Bellone calls on Cuomo to resign

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a long time Cuomo ally, is calling for the governor to resign:

"I have reviewed the Attorney General's report in its entirety as well as the response from Governor Cuomo. The experiences of the courageous women in this report are specific, corroborated and credible. The conduct described is deeply disturbing. Sexual harassment in the workplace is intolerable and we must redouble our efforts in this state to end it once and for all. This requires new leadership. It is time for the Governor to resign."

1st accuser to sue

Lindsey Boylan will be the first Cuomo accuser to sue. She will seek damages for the retaliatory actions Gov. Cuomo and his aides took to discredit her after becoming the first woman to publicly accuse the governor.

5th New York DA requests case materials

A fifth New York district attorney is now asking for information in connection with the Attorney General's investigation. The district attorney from Oswego County is now joining those from Albany, Manhattan, Nassau, Suffolk counties in requesting information from the Attorney General's Office regarding allegations against the governor - and asking for the victims to come forward.

How does impeachment in New York work?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resistance to leaving office after a damning investigation from the New York attorney general's office has prompted renewed calls for his impeachment across the state. Here's what you need to know about the impeachment process.

NY State Democratic chairman calls for Cuomo to resign

New York State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, one of Gov. Cuomo's most loyal allies, is calling on the governor to step down.

"And so, it is with sadness and a measure of regret that I must ask the Governor to resign his office and allow the important work of the State -- work that he did so much to advance - to continue," Jacobs said.

Over half NY Assembly wants to oust Cuomo if he doesn't quit

A majority of state Assembly members support beginning impeachment proceedings against Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he doesn't resign over investigative findings that he sexually harassed at least 11 women, according to an Associated Press count Wednesday. At least 82 of the body's 150 members have said publicly or told The AP that they favored initiating the process of ousting the third-term Democratic governor if he doesn't quit. A simple majority of Assembly members is needed to authorize an impeachment trial.

Nassau DA also requesting materials from AG

Statement from Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce Smith: "We are reviewing the deeply disturbing findings of the Attorney General's report regarding the Governor's alleged conduct. We have requested the Attorney General's records related to any incidents that occurred in Nassau County and will thoroughly and expeditiously investigate any potential crimes."

2 more unions call on Cuomo to resign

Statement from New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento on Attorney General's report: "The first job of any elected official is keeping safe the people they serve; it is clear from the appalling findings of the Attorney General's report, Governor Cuomo failed to do that. We fought for and won the very worker protections that were violated; there must be accountability without exception. Governor Cuomo can no longer lead the state."

Statement from DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido: "Safety and security must be the standard of every workplace. The details made public as part of Attorney General Letitia James' investigation make clear that is not the case in the Governor's office. We cannot turn a blind eye to the harassment perpetuated by Governor Cuomo. It is evident he is no longer fit to serve. The Governor must resign. If he does not, the Assembly must begin the process to impeach."

Manhattan DA also requesting materials from AG

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is also requesting materials related to allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"When our office learned yesterday that the Attorney General's investigation of the Governor's conduct was complete, our office contacted the Attorney General's Office to begin requesting investigative materials in their possession pertaining to incidents that occurred in Manhattan," the agency said in a statement.

Cuomo losing support from major unions

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, with 10,000 members, is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign.

"Governor Andrew Cuomo has provided crucial leadership during the pandemic; he raised the minimum wage to $15 before any other state; he achieved marriage equality in New York when others didn't believe it would be possible," a statement read. "Our union will always be grateful for when his leadership supported our members. Yet after reading the 164-page report of the independent investigation overseen by the Office of the State Attorney General, we cannot ignore the facts. The Governor's behavior towards women in his own workplace was well documented and verified through multiple sources. There can be no denying that his behavior created a toxic environment for women, and can only be called sexual harassment. The RWDSU fights daily to uphold our values of dignity and respect in the workplace for our members. We cannot accept anything less from our leaders. Whether Governor Cuomo believes he acted maliciously or not, we cannot look the other way; nor should he. Governor Cuomo needs to recognize the harm he has caused the women who have bravely come forward. While we acknowledge the good things he has achieved, now is the time for Governor Cuomo to resign."

The Hotel Trades Council and 32BJ have already broken from the governor.

"The behavior described in the Attorney General's report is deeply disturbing and should never be tolerated in any workplace," HTC President Rich Maroko said. "It is clear from the conclusions of the report that Governor Cuomo cannot continue to lead the state. If he does not resign, the Assembly should move promptly to impeach him."

"We stand with women and all victims of sexual assault, and are sadly disappointed by the details documented in the 168-page report of Attorney General Letitia James' investigation," SEIU 32BJ President Kyle Bragg said. "New Yorkers entrusted the Attorney General to investigate these serious claims, and she ensured a thorough and timely investigation, conducted by independent investigators. Creating work environments where sexual harassment is not tolerated is not a matter of politics, but principle, from which no one should be exempted. We urge the Governor to resign and to take responsibility for his well-documented actions and how they have hurt women, and those who have devoted themselves to advance the interests of all New Yorkers. And if the Governor does not resign, we will support the state legislature's actions to bring accountability to the office with all deliberate speed."

Westchester, Albany DAs request materials for possible criminal probe

The Albany and Westchester County district attorneys have requested materials from the New York Attorney General's Office in a possible criminal probe of harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. Some of the conduct alleged in the report released Tuesday occurred in those counties, though Attorney General Letitia James said the findings of her inquiry carried only civil ramifications. Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah said her office will review the governor's interactions with the female New York state trooper at his Mount Kisco home, while Albany District Attorney David Soare is reviewing the governor's interactions with female staff members in his county.

Marist poll shows majority of New Yorkers think Cuomo should resign

A Marist snap poll conducted Tuesday night showed 59% of New Yorkers -- including 52% of registered Democrats -- believe Cuomo should resign, and if he does not, 59% of New Yorkers say he should be impeached. The poll found 32% who said he should serve out the rest of his term.

Cuomo accusers speaks on 'GMA'

Charlotte Bennett, an accuser of Governor Andrew Cuomo, appeared on "Good Morning America" Wednesday morning, alongside her attorney. GMA's George Stephanopoulos asked Bennett what she thought about the governor singling her out during his pre-recorded statement Tuesday, following the release of the New York State attorney general's findings.

"It wasn't an apology and he didn't take accountability for his actions. He can't once apologize and then say he didn't do anything wrong," Bennett said. "He blamed me and said I simply misinterpreted what he had said, but his line of questioning was not appropriate. He was coming onto me and he insinuated that survivors of trauma and sexual assault can't tell the difference between mentorship and leadership and sexual harassment itself, which is not only insulting to me, but every survivor who listened to him yesterday. The victim blaming is not okay."

President Biden, local governors call for Cuomo's resignation

The New York Attorney General's 168-page report containing findings of sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Andrew Cuomo are renewing calls for his removal or resignation, including from President Joe Biden. State Attorney General Letitia James announced the findings Tuesday. Biden said he has not spoken to Cuomo and that he stood by his statement earlier this year that Cuomo should resign if the allegations were confirmed. When asked if Cuomo should be impeached or removed from office if he does not resign, Biden said "let's take one thing at a time."

"I think he should resign, I understand that the state Legislature may decide to impeach, I don't know that for fact, I've not read all that data," Biden said.

Groping, kissing: AG report details 11 complaints against Gov. Cuomo

Attorney General Letitia James released the the findings of her inquiry into allegations against Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, concluding that the governor sexually harassed multiple women and attempted to retaliate against an accuser who came forward. The nearly five-month investigation found that the Cuomo administration was a "hostile work environment" that was "rife with fear and intimidation." According to the investigation, conducted by former federal prosecutor Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark, Cuomo "engaged in the following forms of offensive touching, among others."

Could Cuomo be impeached or face criminal charges?

While the New York Attorney General's role is concluded, Governor Cuomo could still face impeachment, local criminal charges, or civil lawsuits. The attorney general's investigation found that Cuomo sexually harassed nearly a dozen women in and out of state government and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers. The nearly five-month investigation found that Cuomo's administration was a hostile work environment "rife with fear and intimidation." Anne Clark, who led the probe with former U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, said they found 11 accusers to be credible, noting their allegations were corroborated to varying degrees, including by other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages. New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded the investigation without referring the case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges but that's not where the story ends.

Cuomo rejects AG report, denies doing anything inappropriate

A defiant Governor Andrew Cuomo rejected New York Attorney General's findings saying in a taped response that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" and that he "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances."

"I am 63 years old, I have lived my entire life in public view, that's just not who I am or who I have ever been," he said.

Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, state probe finds

New York Attorney General Letitia James released the findings of her inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, concluding the governor created a toxic work environment and harassed multiple women, including current and former employees.


Multiple women accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and assault. The public allegations, which started in December and cascaded over the winter, ranged from inappropriate comments to forced kisses and groping.


Well, no. A probe can't find anyone guilty - that's for a judge and jury to decide. Plus, the probe was civil, not criminal, in nature. But investigators did find the 11 women were telling the truth about Cuomo's behavior and that Cuomo created a hostile work environment "rife with fear and intimidation."


State Attorney General Letitia James, who oversaw the probe, said there would be no criminal referral but local police and prosecutors can use the evidence and findings to build their own cases. The district attorney in New York's capital, Albany, said Tuesday he was requesting James' investigative materials and encouraged victims to come forward.


Cuomo is more defiant than ever, disputing allegations in a taped response and saying "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" and that he "never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances." He also alleged that the investigation itself was fueled by "politics and bias."


Cuomo apologized for making staffers feel uncomfortable, but chalked up some of the allegations to misunderstandings caused by generational and cultural differences (he's Italian American) while flat-out denying the more serious allegations. Accompanied by multiple slideshows of Cuomo and other politicians embracing members of the public, the governor said the gesture was inherited from his parents and meant to convey warmth.


Lots of people. President Joe Biden - once Cuomo's close ally - said Tuesday that, while he hadn't read the report, he thought Cuomo should quit. Both U.S. senators for New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, say he should resign. So does U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the governors of neighboring New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and many other Democrats.


The state Assembly has the power to bring impeachment charges against Cuomo and aims to wrap up its own probe "as quickly as possible," according to Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat who said it was clear Cuomo could no longer remain in office. The Assembly could theoretically vote to launch impeachment proceedings before the probe is finished.


This isn't California. New York has no mechanism to remove elected officials via recall.


New York impeachments start in the Assembly, and if a majority of members vote to impeach Cuomo, the matter moves to the Impeachment Court. In this case, that court would comprise the state Senate - minus its majority leader - and the seven judges of the state's highest court. Two-thirds of the court would need to vote to convict to remove Cuomo.


Once, in 1913. Gov. William Sulzer was ousted after less than a year in office. He claimed his impeachment was retribution for turning his back on the powerful Tammany Hall Democratic machine.


Kathy Hochul, the 62-year-old lieutenant governor. The Democrat from western New York once served in Congress, but has a limited public profile in the state.


James is also investigating into whether Cuomo broke the law in having members of his staff help write and promote his pandemic leadership book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," for which he was set to earn more than $5 million. Federal investigators are also probing the state's handling of data related to nursing home deaths.


So far, all signs point to him running for a fourth term in 2022, and he has begun fundraising. Some polling earlier this year suggested the public's support for Cuomo had slipped, but not dramatically so. No other Democrats have officially issued a primary challenge. On the Republican side, possible opponents include U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin and Andrew Giuliani, son of Rudy.


James has denied having any political motivations for the probe, which was authorized by Cuomo, and has not said publicly whether she is interested in running for governor. While her office oversaw the probe, it was conducted by two outside lawyers, Anne Clark and Joon Kim, who spoke with 179 people - including Cuomo himself.


Yes - according to the report, a state trooper on Cuomo's security detail said Cuomo ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and her back, kissed her on the cheek, asked for her help in finding a girlfriend and asked why she didn't wear a dress. The report also included an allegation from a woman working for an energy company who said Cuomo touched her chest at an event and brushed his hand between her shoulder and breasts.


The former employee in question is Lindsey Boylan, Cuomo's first public accuser. Investigators said Cuomo's team sent reporters Boylan's personnel records within hours of Boylan's December tweet alleging sexual harassment. They also said the governor's circle circulated a letter that "attacked" Boylan's alleged work conduct and theorized she was funded by far-right Republicans.


Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to whom Cuomo personally apologized in a taped response to the findings, called the apology "meaningless" and said that if the governor were truly sorry, he would step down. A lawyer for two accusers called Cuomo's response "laughable" and "manipulative." Boylan's attorney expressed gratitude toward investigators.


Probably not. The governor's brother, Chris Cuomo, is a CNN anchor. The fraternal duo - sons of the late Gov. Mario Cuomo - grabbed headlines in the early days of the pandemic for their banter on the younger Cuomo's primetime show, but Chris Cuomo has since been barred from covering his brother. Tuesday's report also detailed how Chris Cuomo advised his older brother.


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