“The Assembly should impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo expeditiously, and there is an overwhelming majority support for that action,” Assemblyman Charles Barron told the Amsterdam News. “Let’s do it, and do it now.”
Mandates of a different sort now command Gov. Cuomo’s attention: independent investigators appointed by Letitia James, the state’s attorney general, found that he sexually harassed multiple women, engaged in unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging as well as making inappropriate comments.
On Tuesday, the five-month long investigation and report, led by Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark was released, and further noted that the governor and his senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee who had come forward with her account.
According to the report, the governor and the executive chamber “fostered a toxic workplace that enabled harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.” Those actions, the investigators concluded, were violations of state and federal laws as well as the executive chamber’s written policies.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” Attorney General James said. “I am grateful to all the women who came forward to tell their stories in painstaking detail, enabling investigators to get to the truth. No man—no matter how powerful—can be allowed to harass women or violate our human rights laws, period.”
The report noted that there were “credible” allegations of misconduct from 11 women. The investigation uncovered allegations from at least two women, including an unnamed state trooper and a National Grid employee, who had not previously gone public with their claims.
Over the course of the investigation, said James’ office, the investigators interviewed 179 individuals and sifted through more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures.
Cuomo was questioned under oath for 11 hours and had agreed to be “eager to get the facts to the people of this state. I think when they hear the actual facts, what happened, how the situation has been handled, I think they’re going to be shocked. Shocked.”
While the governor denied the most serious allegations, the investigators found that he did so by offering “blanket denials” or that he had a “lack of recollection as to specific incidents.”
“At the Assembly’s request, we have provided the Assembly Judiciary Committee with the report that was released today, and we will provide them with all relevant evidence. We will cooperate with their investigation as needed,” said James.
James’ report has renewed the call for Cuomo’s impeachment for many.
“If this isn’t a statement of why Cuomo must go, I don’t know what is. Andrew Cuomo was so quick to accuse everyone else of sexual harassment,” said Republican candidate for mayor Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa continued, “There is a long litany of people he has said should have been forced to leave their positions or not be considered for electoral office. He was so quick to be judgmental. And now the weight of evidence is clearly against Cuomo. He could do us all a big favor by resigning now. He should resign now and let his lieutenant governor take charge. Let’s get rid of Cuomo once and for all for this, and for all the deaths of all those elderly people because of his executive order on COVID-19,” said Sliwa.
In a 14-minute video, Cuomo posted his response to the report. In it he said, “I cooperated with the review and I can now finally share the truth.”
Cuomo implored people to read the documents and decide for themselves.
He went on to say that the facts are “much different than what has been portrayed” and that his attorney has also refuted each allegation.
“First I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances. I am 63 years old. I have lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am,” said Cuomo in the video.
He said that he’s witnessed his own family member be a victim to sexual assault and felt a measure of guilt in not being able to help her. Cuomo compared that situation with his family member to how he interacted with one of his accusers Charlotte Bennett, a former aide and the second woman to come forward. In the video he apologizes to Bennett for bringing his “personal experience” into the workplace.
Cuomo also said resolutely that he never groped anyone in his home office.
“I do kiss people on the forehead,” said Cuomo about his countless other interactions, gestures and behavior. He said he acts that way with everyone, men and women, young and old.
Brooklyn assemblyman Barron said, “Cuomo’s response was reminiscent of Clinton when he said, ‘I did not have sex with that woman.’ And Cuomo [said] that the woman did not hear what she heard, and I did not violate any woman. If that is not pathological lying I do not know what is.”
Congress members, such as Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez, Ritchie Torres, Yvette Clarke, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a joint statement calling for the New York State Assembly impeachment proceedings to begin.
“Sexual harassment is an extremely serious transgression, and we stand with the brave women who have come forward to share their experiences working for and around Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is clear that he engaged in inappropriate, unlawful and abusive behavior,” they said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was mid-conference when the report was released, put out an official statement on the situation later in the day. He doubled down on his comments that Cuomo was “not fit to hold office and can no longer serve as governor.” De Blasio said that Cuomo must either resign or be impeached. He also said that for him a run for the governor’s office was not out of the realms of possibility.
“My first thoughts are with the women who were subject to this abhorrent behavior, and their bravery in stepping forward to share their stories,” said de Blasio. “The attorney general’s detailed and thorough report substantiates many disturbing instances of severe misconduct. Andrew Cuomo committed sexual assault and sexual harassment, and intimidated a whistleblower. It is disqualifying.”
Assemblymember and Brooklyn County Chair Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn called the findings in the report both troubling and sad.
She said that she will be relentlessly monitoring this disturbing situation in the Assembly.
“My heart and full sympathy goes out to the victims who endured these horrific experiences. I admire the bravery of these women, who stepped forward to provide evidence and live testimonies that will no longer allow this disturbing behavior and abuse to continue,” said Bichotte Hermelyn.
“As a sexual abuse survivor, I am also troubled by the report’s findings that the executive chamber created a work environment ‘filled with fear and intimidation’ that normalized these abhorrent actions,” she continued.
Bichotte Hermelyn said that there is absolutely no room for this type of behavior in any government office and also called Cuomo “unfit for office.”
“I thank the attorney general for her thorough investigation. The report has been sent to the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which will undertake an in-depth examination of it in their ongoing impeachment investigation of the governor.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has not moved for an impeachment officially, but said that there will be more in the “very near future.”
“We have received the attorney general’s 168 page report containing findings of sexual harassment and misconduct committed by Governor Cuomo. The findings contained in the report are disturbing. The details provided by the victims are gut-wrenching. Our hearts go out to all the individuals who have had to endure this horrible experience. The conduct by the governor outlined in this report would indicate someone who is not fit for office,” said Heastie in a statement.
Heastie said the report has been forwarded to the members of the Judiciary Committee as well as all members of the Assembly. It’s up to prosecutors to pursue any potential criminal or civil actions.
Barron concluded, “I said he should have been impeached last year based upon nursing home deaths, and the book, and now with this report about the women he abused it shows that Cuomo is a serial sexual abuser, a pathological liar, and disgustingly blames his victims. And all you Black leaders who continue to support and suck up to him should be ashamed of yourselves.”
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