New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo remained defiant in maintaining his innocence after a bombshell independent report commissioned by New York Attorney General found that he engaged in deeply disturbing sexually harassed multiple former and current female employees in violation of state and federal law, while widely suggested that he was the victim of a smear campaign.
“My attorney, who is a non-political former federal prosecutor, has done a response to each allegation, and the facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” Cuomo said in a recorded 15-minute video statement.
“First, I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo added. “I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am and that’s not who I have ever been.”
Cuomo addressed to some of the allegations laid out in the New York’s Attorney General’s Office stunningly detailed and disturbing 186 page-report, specifically naming former aide Charlotte Bennett, the second woman whom came forward with allegations that he made multiple comments to her about her sex life. The governor noted that this one allegations out of the 11 complaints had “bothered” him the most.
“It’s important to me that you fully understand the situation,” Cuomo said, revealing that Bennett had personally disclosed to him that she was a survivor of sexual assault where she discussed her “personal trauma that she endured and how she was handling it.”
“I could see how it affected her. I could see her pain,” Cuomo said. “The truth is that her story resonated deeply with me. I had heard the same story before with the same ugliness, the same injustice, the same damage.”
Despite appearing sincere for the moment, Cuomo then shifted the blame to Bennett and her lawyer, claiming that neither had accurately presented the situation that he “never meant” and for setting motives that he never had done.
“I have heard Charlotte and her lawyer and I understand what they are saying, but they read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. They ascribe motives I never had. And simply put, they heard things that I just didn’t say,” Cuomo said.
Regarding a different complaint, citing the case of a current anonymous female staffer who alleged that the governor groped her over her bra inside the Executive Mansion, Cuomo put up a tougher defense, saying that he was prepared to face an impending trial.
“Let me be clear: That never happened,” Cuomo said. “She wants anonymity and I respect that. So I am limited of what I can say, but her lawyer has suggested that she will file a legal claim for damages. That will be decided in a court of law. Trial by newspaper or biased reviews are not the way to find the facts in this matter. I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and a jury, because this just did not happen.”
The woman’s attorney told the Times-Union that she is willing to take a polygraph to support her allegations.
Cuomo then pivot to generalized the “other complainants raised against” him, claiming the victims “sought to unfairly characterize” his personality and interactions as a person and politican. He repeated a defense argument he alluded to throughout the last five months since the scandal broke that his gesture in touching and kissing people’s faces were from growing up Italian and was meant to “convey warmth.”
The governor, during his 15-minute taped video then began showing a montage of photos showing him touching or kissing the faces of men, women and children at public events through his political career.
Despite authorizing the New York AG to conduct an independent investigation of the few sexual misconducts claims in early March, Cuomo argued that he personally, not the 11 woman who came forward, was the victim of a politically motivated hit job.
“Today we are living in a super-heated, if not toxic political environment,” Cuomo said. “Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation. 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.”
After the cascade of harassment accusations came to light in March, Cuomo faced a barraged of mounting calls from New York state and Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as from his accusers for the New York Democrat to resign. Remaining defiant like before, Cuomo gave no indication that he was prepared to resign despite the New York state assembly convening in an emergency meeting shortly after James conference regarding the new step of the impeachment investigation. The once media Democrat darling is now facing renewed pressure to resign and will have to determine whether he would continue forward with his 2022 re-election campaign for a fourth term.
In an 85-page rebuttal statement responding to each of the attorney general’s office’s findings that was authored by attorney Rita Glavin, which half the report features the same pictures Cuomo used in his slew of photo slideshow, as well as other Democratic politician including infamously President Biden, who is known to be very hands-on when touching supporters.
“The Report ignored key facts and pieces of evidence that undermine many of those allegations, and the press conference confirmed that this ‘investigation’ had a predetermined outcome regardless of all the evidence,” Glavin wrote, returning to the audit commissioned by the AG’s office.