New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who released a report in January claiming that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration dramatically underestimated COVID-19 nursing home deaths in the state, will have full control over the investigation of sexual harassment that threatens your administration.
James said Sunday that he hoped to be granted a referral that would give his office subpoena power and allow him to delegate to an outside law firm for “a rigorous and independent investigation.”
Senators Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, both Democrats from New York, called for James to be given the power of investigation “so that he can conduct a transparent and thorough investigation with subpoena power.”
The Democrat & Chronicle reported that Cuomo initially wanted to refer the issue to Barbara Jones, a former US district judge, who worked with one of his former advisers.
After that idea was rejected, the newspaper reported that Cuomo wanted James to work with a judge he appointed to help select an appropriate independent attorney to investigate the matter.
For several hours Sunday, James and other prominent party officials rejected Cuomo’s proposals on how an investigation could proceed.
The newspaper said that at 5:30 pm on Sunday, the governor agreed to cede power to James. No office immediately responded to Fox News emails.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden also supported an independent review that “should move forward as quickly as possible.”
Cuomo has been accused by a former assistant, Lindsey Boylan, of orchestrating a “pervasive” culture of “sexual harassment and intimidation.” She posted on Medium that Cuomo once suggested they play strip poker during a flight in October 2017 and said he once kissed her on the lips.
Boylan, a Democrat running for president of the Manhattan borough, said that during his more than three years in the Democratic administration, Cuomo “did everything possible to touch me on the lower back, arms and legs.”
Charlotte Bennett, whom The New York Times describes as “an executive assistant and health policy advisor in the Cuomo administration until he left in November,” alleges that Cuomo “asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her life. relationships. And if she has ever had sex with older men. “
Cuomo’s office denied Boylan’s allegations. He said he never made any advances towards Bennett “nor did I intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would have wanted was to make him feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Cuomo issued a statement Sunday to address the sexual harassment allegations, but even the statement was criticized by critics as deaf.
“At work I sometimes think I’m being playful and I make jokes that I think are funny. Sometimes I make fun of people in a way that I think is personable,” the governor explained. “I do it in public and in private. I’ve been seen doing it at informational meetings hundreds of times. I’ve made fun of people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I don’t mean to offend and I’m just trying to add a little bit of lightness and jokes to what is a very serious business “.
Cuomo continued: “Now I understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in a way that I never intended. I acknowledge that some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as unwanted flirting. To the extent that someone felt that way, I’m really sorry. “
The scandal is the second that Cuomo has faced, and James plays a central role in both.
James said last month that COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes in New York were underestimated by as much as 50%, prompting Cuomo to appear before the House Oversight Committee. A spokesman for Cuomo criticized the request as “empty political theater.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Joesph A. Wulfshon, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.