NEW YORK NOW – After a report from the New York Attorney General’s Office found claims of sexual harassment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be credible Tuesday, the three-term governor responded by questioning the integrity of that probe, and the allegations made against him.
In a pre-recorded response to the report, Cuomo said his attorney had compiled a response to each claim made against him, and that he didn’t break the law, despite the report’s findings.
“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.
“Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this situation. One would be naive to think otherwise. And New Yorkers are not naive. I understand these dynamics.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the report Tuesday, and said the independent attorneys hired to conduct the probe had found the allegations made against him to be credible, and that he’s broken both state and federal laws related to harassment.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so, violated federal and state law,” James said.
In response to the report, Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, issued her own report in defense of the governor, saying the investigation led by the attorney general’s office left out crucial facts, and that the claims made against the three-term governor have been politically motivated.
“The Governor has spent almost all of his adult life in the public eye. The sudden allegations of sexual harassment over the last number of months — allegations never made before about him — have been stunning to him because he has never conducted himself in that way,” Glavin wrote.
“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.”
In all, the attorneys who conducted the probe said they spoke to 179 individuals and reviewed more than 74,000 pages of evidence as part of the inquiry.
But Glavin said they missed the mark. Responding to specific allegations against Cuomo, Glavin stated repeatedly in her report that the governor’s actions were taken out of context, or weren’t inappropriate.
“The Governor’s conduct in this regard is unremarkable: Democratic and Republican politicians, male and female alike, use handshakes, hugs, and kisses to connect with others,” Glavin wrote.
She then went on to write rebuttals to each claim made against Cuomo, using language that appeared to be intended to discredit the allegations.
Charlotte Bennett, for example, has accused Cuomo of asking her intimate questions about her relationships and sex life, including if she’s monogamous, and if she’d be interested in dating older men. Bennett has describe those interactions as Cuomo grooming her for sex.
Glavin, in response to those claims, said the governor spoke candidly to her in an effort to offer her support during a difficult time. Bennett is a survivor of sexual assault.
“The Governor understands that Ms. Bennett took his comments and conversations with her to mean something else,” Glavin wrote. “He never intended to make Ms. Bennett feel uncomfortable or suggest anything untoward in what he thought was a paternalistic and mentoring relationship. Far from it.”
Debra Katz, an attorney for Bennett, said in a statement in response to the report her claims had been validated, and that Cuomo and the senior staff who handled her complaints against the governor should resign.
“The findings released today demonstrate what Charlotte Bennett stated publicly, at great personal cost, more than six months ago: Governor Cuomo sexually harassed her during her employment as his executive assistant and his enablers protected him and covered it up,” Katz said.
And in response to a claim that Cuomo had groped a woman beneath her shirt at the Executive Mansion in Albany, Glavin said that didn’t happen, and that the attorney general’s office didn’t review evidence that would supposedly exonerate him.
“The contemporaneous documentary evidence — which the Attorney General’s investigators apparently did not bother to review or consider — does not support this allegation,” Glavin wrote.
Cuomo has, so far, not said whether he’ll remain in office and run for reelection.