Cuomo defends himself, pushes back amid harassment probe
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) defended himself on Thursday and pushed back on reporters as he faces an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
During a COVID-19 briefing, Cuomo was asked about his recent remarks on the state attorney general’s probe into the accusations against him, in which he said, “I’m not telling anyone to have faith in anything.”
When a reporter asked if he was worried about criminal charges resulting from the probe, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Cuomo responded: “The short answer is no. I did nothing wrong. I never said I didn’t have faith in the attorney general’s investigation.”
“What I said was people have only heard one side of the story. New Yorkers are smart, they know when they’re hearing one side of the story. They wait to hear the other side of the story,” he continued. “And I am very eager to tell them the other side of the story because it is a much different story. And the truth will be told, and the truth is much, much different than what has been suggested.”
His comments come as James investigates allegations against Cuomo from multiple women. The governor has faced numerous calls to resign, from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Cuomo has vehemently denied the allegations against him, while acknowledging that some of his comments may have made people uncomfortable.
The governor made such an admission during a press conference in early March after three women accused him of inappropriate behavior.
At Thursday’s briefing, Cuomo got into an exchange with a reporter who asked about the admission. The reporter also asked if Cuomo knew that under the law his intentions do not determine whether there was a violation.
“I never said anything I believe is inappropriate,” Cuomo told the reporter. “You can leave this press conference and say, ‘Oh, the governor harassed me.’ You can say that, but I would say that I never said anything that I believed was inappropriate and never meant to make you feel that way.”
When pressed further, Cuomo said: “Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable. That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment, that is you feeling uncomfortable.”
Cuomo ended the briefing after that remark.
Deborah Katz, who represents Charlotte Bennett, one of Cuomo’s accusers, called the governor’s remarks shocking.
“Governor’s Cuomo’s remarks are jaw dropping,” Katz said in a statement. “For someone who signed the law defining sexual harassment in New York State, and who claims to have taken the state’s mandated sexual harassment training every year despite Ms. Bennett seeing someone else take it on his behalf, Gov. Cuomo continues to show an alarming degree of ignorance about what constitutes sexual harassment.”
Bennett, a former Cuomo aide, has accused the governor of asking about her sex life, including whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.
Bennett met with investigators from James’s office in March.
The governor’s office has seen a wave of resignations since the allegations were made public. Communications director Peter Ajemian was the latest to depart.
Updated at 3:27 p.m.
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