CNBC’s Contessa Brewer reports that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has strongly denied sexual harassment allegations following an investigation by the office of state Attorney General Letitia James. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women and then retaliated against a former employee who complained publicly about his conduct, according to a bombshell report released Tuesday by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The monthslong probe concluded that Cuomo “sexually harassed multiple women and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said at a press conference. Her office noted, however, that there were no specific penalties tied to the report.
The 165-page report, which comprises interviews with 179 witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents, also said that Cuomo’s office was riddled with fear and intimidation and was a hostile work environment for many staffers.
Cuomo harassed members of his own staff, members of the public and other state employees, one of whom was a state trooper on his protective detail, the report alleges. He engaged in nonconsensual touching, groping, kissing and hugging, and made inappropriate comments toward numerous women, according to the report.
It also concluded that the governor’s denials “lack credibility” and were “inconsistent with the weight of the evidence” gathered throughout the probe.
A somber but defiant Cuomo strongly denied some of the allegations against him later Tuesday and said that other examples of his alleged misconduct had been mischaracterized or misinterpreted.
The findings reveal “a deeply disturbing, yet clear, picture,” James said, describing Cuomo’s office as “a toxic workplace.”
The announcement came about two weeks after Cuomo was interviewed by investigators retained by James’ office for the probe. Cuomo was reportedly questioned for 11 hours.
Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins reiterated her prior calls for Cuomo to resign. “It should be clear to everyone that he can no longer serve as Governor,” she said in a statement.
Mariann Wang, a lawyer for two accusers, Alyssa McGrath and Virginia Limmiatis, said in a statement, “Cuomo’s misogyny and abuse cannot be denied.”
“He has been doing this for years, without any repercussions. He should not be in charge of our government and should not be in any position of power over anyone else,” Wang’s statement said.
Debra Katz, an attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, echoed Wang, saying Cuomo and other complicit staff “must resign immediately.”
“If he does not, the New York State Assembly must accept the Attorney General’s findings and begin taking the appropriate steps to remove him from office,” Katz said in a statement.
The probe into numerous women’s allegations of sexual harassment by Cuomo began in March, after the state’s executive chamber granted James’ request to investigate.
Later that same month, dozens of Democratic state lawmakers — including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom Cuomo has long had a fraught relationship — urged the governor to resign.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat, in mid-March authorized a panel to launch an impeachment investigation into the harassment claims and other allegations of wrongdoing by Cuomo, including whether his staff tried to hide or alter data on coronavirus deaths in New York nursing homes.
Cuomo has defended himself against all the allegations and has repeatedly rebuffed calls for his resignation, though he has apologized for making some women feel uncomfortable.
“I never harassed anyone, I never assaulted anyone, I never abused anyone,” Cuomo said in March. “I’m not going to resign.”
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