AG report concludes governor sexually harassed multiple women

A bombshell report released Tuesday concluded New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and the Executive Chamber fostered a toxic workplace that was “rife with fear and intimidation.”

The 165-page report from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James noted the governor engaged in “unwanted groping, kissing, and hugging, and making inappropriate comments.” 

“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,” Ms. James said in a statement. “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 quickly drew renewed calls for the governor to resign. Ms. James, however, said her team’s work is now concluded and declined to opine on what should happen next.

“As it related to next steps, that’s entirely up to the governor and/or the Assembly and the general public,” she said during a media briefing.

Investigators interviewed 179 people and reviewed more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts and pictures.

During the investigation, Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, denied the most serious allegations and investigators found he offered “blanket denials” or that he had a “lack of recollection as to specific incidents,” according to the attorney general.

In a 15-minute video posted on the governor’s social media, Mr. Cuomo remained defiant and offered no indication of a plan to resign. He claimed the facts “are much different than what’s been portrayed.” And he said he never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.

“I am 63 years old, I have lived my entire adult life in public view,” he said. “That is just not who I am. And that’s not who I have ever been.”

The investigation began after multiple women came forward with allegations that the governor had sexually harassed them. Detailed reports of the victim’s accounts have been published in several media outlets, such as The New York Times. The avalanche of accusations stemmed from an initial essay published by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan. She described the governor as having created a culture in his administration “where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.” She said in the essay that she was going public after seeing Mr. Cuomo’s name floated as a potential candidate for U.S. Attorney General.

The investigation also found that the governor and senior staff took actions to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, according to the AG.

The report says Mr. Cuomo violated multiple state and federal laws as well as the Executive Chamber’s own written policies.

Mr. Cuomo pushed forward in his role as governor since the first allegations surfaced and continually brushed off calls to resign, including from members of his own party and local politicians such as Anthony Palumbo, the state Senator (R-New Suffolk) who represents the North Fork.

Mr. Palumbo renewed those calls for the governor to resign Tuesday, saying the report “makes it clear that [Mr. Cuomo] is no longer fit to serve the people of New York as its top executive.”

“If the governor, driven by his arrogance and hubris, refuses to resign, then the Assembly Democratic Conference must take immediate action and begin impeachment proceedings,” he said.

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Baiting Hollow) released a similar statement saying the governor should resign immediately.

“This evidence is particularly damning,” she said. “No one should suffer the systemic and frankly disgusting sexual harassment that the governor engaged in.”

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has also been an outspoken critic of the governor and is running as a Republican for the state office to challenge Mr. Cuomo. It’s unclear now if Mr. Cuomo will even be the Democratic candidate.

Mr. Zeldin quickly criticized the governor for seemingly refusing to step down and called on the state Legislature to begin impeachment proceedings.

Ms. James said the investigation was civil in nature and does not include criminal charges. It would be up to local prosecutors to pursue criminal charges.

Asked about whether the governor should resign, Ms. James said that decision ultimately rests with Mr. Cuomo and that “the report speaks for itself.”

“Right now I think we should all be focused on the courage and bravery of the women who came forward. And all of us should be focused on keeping women safe, believing women and allowing women to speak their truth and that’s exactly what this document does.”

The investigation was led by former Acting U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim and employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark.

Ms. James said there were attempts to undermine and politicize the investigation and said the team are “professionals who are widely respected.”

“I support their work, will defend their work and I believe these women,” she said.