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Cuomo apologizes over allegations, calls for NY AG to tap lawyer for independent probe

Cuomo apologizes over allegations, calls for NY AG to tap lawyer for independent probe

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' New York attorney general expanding Cuomo investigation: report Cuomo's communications director resigns MORE (D) on Sunday acknowledged some of his interactions with women "may have been insensitive or too personal" while maintaining he has “never inappropriately touched anybody.”

After a day of back-and-forth with New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Cuomo's office also said it was asking James to pick an independent attorney to investigate the sexual harassment allegations against him, backing down from a proposal that would have had James and the state's chief appeals judge dually appoint an investigator. 

"I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that," Cuomo said in a statement.

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He added, "To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to."

His office in a separate statement said he would cooperate with an investigation.

“The Governor’s office wants a thorough and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference. Therefore the Governor’s office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment,” Cuomo’s office said in a statement. “The Governor’s office will voluntarily cooperate fully.”

James had earlier on Sunday tweeted that she did “not accept the governor’s proposal" that she and the state's chief appeals judge appoint an attorney to investigate the sexual harassment claims against him.

"While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task," James added.

 

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After Cuomo's latest statement she tweeted that her office expects "to receive a referral with subpoena power to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, in line with our demands and New York state law. The referral would be made solely to the attorney general's office."

"This is not a responsibility we take lightly," she added. "We will hire a law firm, deputize them as attorneys of our office, and oversee a rigorous and independent investigation."

Two former aides to Cuomo have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Charlotte Bennett and Lindsey Boylan have both accused Cuomo of unwanted advances and of making inappropriate remarks while in the workplace.

Boylan said that Cuomo kissed her without her consent and made several inappropriate remarks, including suggesting the two of them "play strip poker."

Bennet told The New York Times that Cuomo asked her several personal questions, including if she thought age was relevant in romantic relationships, and said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.

“I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” Bennett told the Times. “And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”