In the wake of three women in less than one week coming forward to accuse scandal-plagued New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of inappropriate sexual behavior, White House press secretary Jen Psaki won’t say when will President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will personally speak out about this matter.
During Tuesday’s daily White House Press Briefing, Psaki was asked about the allegations lodged at Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances, with the third woman on Monday, Anna Ruch happened to work for the Biden-Harris presidential campaign.
“So at what point is the first female vice president going to say something about this?” a Fox News reporter asked Psaki, noting Harris was “one of the most vocal critics” when Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) faced similar sexual allegations.
“The benefit of doing a briefing every day is I can certainly speak on behalf of the president and the vice president,” Psaki said. “So let me reiterate that they both believe that every woman coming forward should be heard, should be treated with dignity and treated with respect.”
Psaki added that both Biden and Harris fully support the investigation being brought by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Cuomo finally agreed to allow the state attorney general’s Office full control of the investigation and for James to appoint an independent legal team to conduct the review. At first, Cuomo had tried to refer the investigation to Barbara Jones, a former U.S. district judge and one of his appointee. After a series of extended back-and-forth between Cuomo and James on Sunday over how the probe should be conducted and under pressure from Democratic lawmakers, the governor caved to let the attorney general office conduct “an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment,” and would fully cooperate voluntarily on the matter.
The Fox News reporter pressed on the matter, asking Psaki, “It’s one thing to hear it from you and it’s appreciated but it’s another thing to hear it from the vice president or the president himself. Can we expect to hear it from them anytime soon?”
“Again, I am speaking on their behalf that’s how they feel,” Psaki responded. “That’s how they feel. They’re personally both view this as a situation where both — all of the women coming forward should be treated with dignity and respect and should have their voices heard. And that’s the representation of their points of view.”
Harris’ silence in the wake of the Cuomo allegations is amplified by the fact that other prominent female Democrats have already addressed the issue and supported an investigation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) addressed the scandal Cuomo is facing, calling them “serious and credible,” after the second woman, Charlotte Bennett, accused the governor of sexual harassment on Saturday, saying the incidents occurred during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi, who remained muted when Cuomo’s first accuser made her claims public finally broke her silence 24 hours later after a second woman came forward with allegations, emphasized that both accusers to Cuomo should be “heard and to be treated with dignity.”
“The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.”
Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo told her alleged accounts to the New York Times on Saturday. The former aide accused Cuomo of making a series of inappropriate “comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship” all of which the incidents occurred during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic and when the governor soared to national prominence for his “Emmy-awarding” press briefings.
Bennett’s claim, in turn, came less than four days after another former staffer, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development, and a special adviser shared details of her sexual harassment allegation against Cuomo that spanned over several years. Boylan in her bombshell revelation, accused Cuomo of going “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms, and legs,” forcibly kissing her on the lips during a one-on-one briefing, and suggesting that they “play strip poker” during a plane ride.
Harris was a vocal staunch critic of Kavanaugh during his confirmation process when faced with allegations brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, saying even after he is confirmed he should face impeachment from the high court.
“Christine Blasey Ford, who literally had nothing to gain by coming forward … she looked at the fact that this guy was being nominated and said, ‘the American people had the right to know what I know,’ and she was treated like a criminal,” Harris told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow back in September 2019.
The former California Senator who mounted a short bid for the White House during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary even said she believed the women who had accused President Biden of inappropriate touching in the past.
“I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it,” Harris said about Biden’s accusers.