New York Attorney General, Letitia James, concluded her investigation into the claims that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually assaulted 11 women, nine of whom are current and former state employees — and one a New York State trooper.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, James announced her findings of the 5-month investigation in which investigators spoke with 179 individuals. The conclusion of the investigation found that Gov. Cuomo violated state and federal laws with unwanted touching and offensive comments made toward employees of the state.
“None of them welcomed it and all of them found it uncomfortable,” New York Attorney General Letitia James told reporters Tuesday.
In one case, the New York AG described that he grabbed an executive assistant by the buttocks and groped her under her shirt, and he fondled the state trooper, as the report found. James also told reporters the investigation found the governor and his team retaliated against a former employee for coming forward, and that they fostered a “toxic” work environment.
In a statement, the Albany County, N.Y. district attorney’s office said it has an ongoing criminal investigation into Cuomo’s conduct, and they will be formally requesting investigative materials from the AG’s office.
Governor Cuomo also made a statement in the wake of the attorney general’s press conference in which he gave a somewhat shaky denial of the findings of the report. Cuomo, in a video statement, denied any wrongdoing, and said he was issuing his own report to “now share the truth.”
“The facts are much different than has been portrayed,” he said. “I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
He suggested the report was tainted by “bias” and portrayed himself as a protector of women.
“For those who are using this moment to score political points, or seek publicity or personal gain, I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect,” Cuomo said.
He went on to say that he would hire more trainers to prevent office harassment: “I want New York State government to be a model of office behavior, and I brought in an expert to design new sexual harassment policy and procedures, and to train the whole team, myself included.”
Cuomo, a Democrat in his third term, has rebuffed calls to step down and repeatedly denied wrongdoing, initially predicting that the probe by James’ office would exonerate him. It did the opposite.
“This is a sad day for New York because independent investigators have concluded that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and, in doing so, broke the law,” said James, whose office questioned 179 people and reviewed over 74,000 documents in the months-long probe.
Cuomo has held a supportive stance of women who have made claims of sexual misconduct in cases such as the Kavanaugh hearings. In light of the new findings, naturally, some of his old tweets resurfaced in which he condemned Justice Kavanuagh based on allegations made against him stemming from his childhood. In what now seems like a hypocritical display of faux allegiance to the “MeToo” movement, the governor opened a fresh batch of criticism from critics and even some on the democratic side.
One such critic, President Biden, called for his resignation as Governor of New York. “I think he should resign,” Biden told reporters at the White House. When asked whether he thought Cuomo should be impeached and removed from office should he refuse to step down, Biden said, “Let’s take one thing at a time.”
Biden said he has not read the report or spoken to Cuomo.
Biden’s comments followed a number of Democratic members of Congress calling on Cuomo to resign.
“As we have said before, the reported actions of the Governor were profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York Democrats, said in a joint statement.
No elected official is above the law, they said, adding that “we continue to believe that the Governor should resign.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed the senators.
“Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign,” Pelosi, who stopped short of calling on him to leave office in March, said in a statement.
Cuomo has made clear he has no plans to resign and has instead asserted that his office will be issuing its own report in an attempt to exonerate himself from the conclusion that he sexually assaulted these women although that report has no set date of when it will be released.