Attorney General Letitia James announces who will lead Cuomo harassment investigation

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The New York attorney general has named the two lawyers who will lead the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Monday the appointment of former Acting U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne L. Clark as the two attorneys who will lead an independent investigation.

"We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts," James said. "Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law. There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve."

The investigation will include issuing subpoenas and related compliance; examination of relevant documents and records; interviews, including formal depositions; and analysis of data and information pertinent to the investigation.

Kim was the U.S. attorney in the southern district for 10 months, during which time the office brought the prosecution of Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and close friend to Cuomo, as well as former Democratic speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver and State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and investigated but eventually declined to charge Mayor bill de Blasio with campaign fundraising violations.

Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., where she focuses on employment law issues on behalf of employees at the trial and appellate levels. She has successfully represented plaintiffs in numerous sexual harassment and other employment discrimination cases in the private sector, in education, and in government.

The attorney representing accuser Charlotte Bennett, released the following statement on the appointments:

"The selection of Joon H. Kim and Ann L. Clark to investigate claims of sexual harassment by Governor Andrew Cuomo demonstrates that Attorney General Letitia James is taking this matter very seriously. We are encouraged by the experience and background of the attorneys who will be investigating Charlotte's claims and expect the investigation will extend to the claims of the other women who we know to be out there," said Debra Katz. "It is important that this investigation isn't just centered around what Governor Cuomo said and did. It must also focus on the culture of secrecy, abuse and fear that he fostered among his staff-frequently in violation of the very laws he signed to protect workers from sexual harassment. We look forward to cooperating with the investigators."

Over the weekend, two more women came forward saying Cuomo was inappropriate with them. However, the governor said he is standing his ground that he will not resign, at least until the results of the investigation from the state attorney general.

Now a total of five women are saying they were sexually harassed by Governor Cuomo.

One new allegation is from Ana Liss, who says the governor questioned her about her intimate life and kissed her on the hand. Liss has reportedly said that at first, she thought it was harmless flirtation, but later found it inappropriate.

The other new accuser is Karen Hinton, who worked as a press aide for Cuomo and later served as Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary.

"Attacking the accuser is the classic playbook of powerful men trying to protect themselves," Hinton said.

Hinton told The Washington Post back in 2000 when she was a press aide for the governor at 'HUD,' he summoned her to a hotel room, pulled her towards him, and held her.

Cuomo dismissed Hinton as a longtime critic of his whose account required context.

In addition, two men have reported that the governor created a toxic workplace by berating them and being verbally abusive.

"What she said is not true," Cuomo said of accusations by Hinton.

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But his defense didn't stop one of the state's top Democrats, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for calling on him to resign.

"New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health, and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction," Stewart-Cousins said. "For the good of the state, Governor Cuomo must resign."

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stopped short of calling on Cuomo to resign.

"The allegations pertaining to the governor that have been reported in recent weeks have been deeply disturbing, and have no place whatsoever in government, the workplace, or anywhere else," Heastie said. "I too share the sentiment of Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins regarding the Governor's ability to continue to lead this state. We have many challenges to address, and I think it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York."

The governor pushed back.

"I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn't elected by politicians. I'm not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic," Cuomo said.

Cuomo noted Sen. Schumer and the White House have signaled a willingness to wait for the outcome of an investigation overseen by the state attorney general.

The New York Working Families Party said if Cuomo refuses to step down, he should be impeached:

"Thank you Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for bravely standing up for all New Yorkers and calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. If the Governor continues to disregard the wellbeing of New Yorkers and refuses to step down, then the Assembly must embrace its constitutional duty and begin impeachment proceedings to remove the Governor from office immediately. New Yorkers are facing an ongoing public health and economic crisis, combined with an absence of ethical and transparent executive leadership in Albany. Now more than ever, we urge our state legislators to step forward and lead."

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