Cuomo is alleged to be questioned in a sexual harassment investigation
ALBANY, NY (AP) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to be interviewed Saturday while the attorney general’s office closes its investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that have turned his national reputation upside down and threatened his hold on power while he was preparing to run for a fourth term next year.
The timing of the interview in Albany, the state’s capital, was confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday 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 have always been expected to speak to Cuomo, who said at the start of the investigation in March he would “cooperate fully”. Cuomo is also facing impeachment proceedings in the state parliament.
Saturday’s interview signals that investigators are nearing completion with their work, which included interviews with the governor’s prosecutors, although they may need some time to clear open questions before a report is released.
Several women have accused Cuomo, a Democrat, of unwanted kisses, touching, groping and making inappropriate sexual remarks.
Cuomo initially apologized, saying that he had “learned an important lesson” about his behavior towards women, although he has since denied he did anything wrong and questions the motives of prosecutors and Democrats who called for his resignation .
Cuomo, in office since 2011, has dismissed calls to stand aside.
Cuomo’s popularity has waned this year, with around 62% of voters saying Cuomo should step down or not run again in a poll conducted by Siena College in late June. Still, supporters point out that 61% of Democrats in this poll said they had a positive opinion of him.
A message asking for a comment was left with Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin. A Cuomo spokesman said Thursday he had no comment. The attorney general declined to comment.
“We have repeatedly said that the governor does not want to comment on this review until he has cooperated, but the persistent leaks are further evidence of the transparent political motivation behind the attorney general’s review,” said Cuomo Senior Advisor Richard Azzopardi.
The scheduled interview with Cuomo was first reported by the New York Times.
Former consultant Lindsey Boylan accused Cuomo of molesting her throughout her employment and said he once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet.
Another former assistant, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo once asked her if she ever had sex with older men. Bennett’s attorney Debra Katz said Bennett met with investigators for more than four hours through Zoom and provided them with 120 pages of notes to back up their allegations.
A message was left with Katz and Boylan’s attorneys and another Cuomo prosecutor, assistant Alyssa McGrath, asking for comment.
The investigation into the allegations against Cuomo is overseen by the state’s independently elected attorney general, Letitia James, who hired former federal attorney Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark to conduct the investigation and document its findings in a public report.
Azzopardi’s testimony Thursday was at least the second time that Cuomo’s top spokesman, James, also a Democrat, alleged that her investigation was politically motivated. Azzopardi did not provide any evidence on Thursday that the attorney general leaked any information.
In April, Azzopardi beat James up for confirming that her office was also investigating whether Cuomo had broken the law by helping staff write and promote his latest memoir, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“Both the auditor and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor and it is unethical to exercise criminal referral powers out of political self-interest,” Azzopardi said at the time.
Some of Cuomo’s key allies in the state legislature have urged the public to await the results of James’ investigations and not to undermine their integrity.
Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, said he trusted the independent investigators James selected and said “their credibility and professionalism cannot be questioned.”
“People got the feeling early on that the governor had helped her become an AG that she would respond to his political needs,” said Rivera, chairwoman of the Senate health committee. “Now she has proven time and again that she is responsible to the people of New York State.”
Manhattan MP Richard Gottfried, chairman of the Democratic Health Committee and Congregation, agreed, “Tish James will not let anyone undermine him.”
Senator John Liu, the whip’s majority assistant, called Azzopardi’s statement the “typical Cuomo playbook”.
“Obviously, Cuomo is trying to undermine the AG,” said Liu.
“Those kinds of comments that try to intervene, distract, at least include politically – I read from the fact that the people in the governor’s circle, including the governor, are at least nervous and at most run away scared,” said Liu. , a Democrat from Queens who, like Gottfried and Rivera, has called on Cuomo to resign.
This year’s legislature has ended, but lawmakers could return later in the summer or fall when the investigation ends.
“I think Tish James is as thorough as possible, knowing that no matter what she accuses of politics, she will be accused,” Liu said.
The State Assembly’s Judiciary Committee has launched its own investigation to see if there are grounds to indict the governor over sexual misconduct and his government’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents.
It is also unclear when the gathering investigation will be completed, but it will likely be after the James investigation is completed. Boylan has said she only wants to speak to investigators in the attorney general’s investigation.
Liu said the WG’s report and recommendations will “carry a lot of weight” with lawmakers.
Balsamo reported from Washington, DC Sisak reported from Port St. Lucie, Florida.