New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing pressure from both sides of the aisle in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him by two former aides.
The Democrat has come under fire in recent days from Republicans like Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., as well as members of his own party at the state, local and federal levels.
CUOMO SAYS HE WAS ‘BEING A PLAYER’ BUT ADMITS THAT ‘HE MAY HAVE BEEN INSENSITIVE’ AMID THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS
“Governor Cuomo is a criminal sexual predator and must resign immediately,” Stefanik said in a statement in response to a New York Times report recounting the allegations by Cuomo’s former adviser Charlotte Bennett.
According to the Times, Bennett said Cuomo asked him questions about his sex life, if he was monogamous in his relationships and if he had ever had sex with older men.
The 25-year-old staff member described to the Times an incident that took place in June when she was “alone” with the 63-year-old governor in her state Capitol office. According to the report, he allegedly asked her if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships and that he was open to having relationships with women in their 20s, which were singled out by the Times as “comments that she interpreted as overt overtures to a sexual relationship. “
In response to the allegations, Cuomo told the Times that he “never made any advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
Bennett’s accusations followed claims made by former Cuomo staff member Lindsey Boylan, who accused the governor of “going out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” kissing her while they were alone in his office. , and suggest that you “play strip poker” during a plane trip.
Cuomo’s office denied Boylan’s harassment allegations, calling them “simply untrue” and insisting that the strip poker comment “did not happen.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who has often disagreed with Cuomo, called for an independent investigation of the governor after Boylan made his accusations.
“When a woman makes these kinds of very specific accusations, we have to take them seriously,” de Blasio said. “We need a full and independent investigation.”
On Sunday, after Bennett’s accusations, de Blasio issued a new statement, again calling for an investigation “led by someone totally independent of the governor.”
New York State Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim shared De Blasio’s statement on Twitter, suggesting that the governor step down.
“Or … Cuomo can quit tonight,” Kim said. “Not tomorrow. Tonight.”
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, another Democrat, also called for Cuomo’s resignation.
“As a New Yorker, a legislator, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Homeland Governance, and a survivor of sexual abuse, I call for Governor Cuomo’s resignation,” Biaggi tweeted Saturday.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, DN.Y., joined calls for an investigation following Bennett’s claims. In an email to Fox News, Gillibrand called the allegations “serious and deeply troubling.”
On Sunday, Cuomo said in a statement that while at work he likes to “make jokes that I think are funny” and has “joked with people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married.” The governor stated that he did not mean to offend anyone, but acknowledged that he now sees “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,” continued Cuomo. “To the extent that someone felt that way, I’m really sorry.”
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Cuomo agreed to be subjected to an investigation, but that generated controversy when he first appointed former federal judge Barbara Jones to lead the investigation. Jones was a former law firm colleague of former Cuomo assistant Steve Cohen. Following criticism of this choice, Cuomo’s office announced the selection of the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, Janet DiFiore, to work with New York Attorney General Letitia James in selecting an independent attorney for the investigation.
James rejected that plan.
“State Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral,” James said in a statement. “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, under Executive Law.”
Cuomo finally agreed to this.
“The governor’s office wants a full and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference,” Cuomo Special Counsel Beth Garvey said in a statement. “Therefore, the governor’s office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private attorney to conduct an independent review of the sexual harassment allegations.”
The bullying scandal only adds to the pressure Cuomo was already facing over his nursing home scandal. The governor was heavily criticized for his March 2020 decision to order nursing homes to admit residents who tested positive for coronavirus, and his administration later withheld data on the number of nursing home residents who died from it. the pandemic.
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Cuomo insists his directive, which was rescinded in May, did not cause the thousands of nursing home deaths that were eventually discovered, and that it was infected staff who brought the virus to the facility. He also claims that he did not withhold statistics from state legislators, but simply paused his office’s response to his query to fulfill a federal request. Cuomo has also stated that his office had informed members of the state assembly and senators of this.
State officials such as Kim and Biaggi have disputed this, denying they heard this from the administration.
Edmund DeMarche, Joseph A. Wulfsohn, and Dom Calicchio of Fox News contributed to this report.