ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged for the primary time Sunday that a few of his conduct with ladies had been “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation,” and stated he would cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation led by the state’s lawyer normal.
In a press release launched amid mounting criticism from inside his personal social gathering, the Democrat maintained he had by no means inappropriately touched or propositioned anybody. But he stated he had teased folks and made jokes about their private lives in an try to be “playful.”
“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,” he stated.
He made the feedback after the state’s lawyer normal demanded Cuomo grant her the authority to analyze claims he sexually harassed at the very least two ladies who labored for him.
Cuomo’s authorized counsel stated the governor would again a plan to nominate an out of doors lawyer as a particular unbiased deputy lawyer normal.
Top Democrats statewide gave the impression to be abandoning Cuomo in massive numbers as he tried to retain some say over who would examine his office conduct.
Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has been, at instances, allied with Cuomo however is independently elected, appeared to emerge as a consensus selection to guide a probe.
Over a number of hours Sunday, she and different main social gathering officers rejected two proposals by the governor that they stated might doubtlessly have restricted the independence of the investigation.
Under his first plan, introduced Saturday night, a retired federal choose picked by Cuomo, Barbara Jones, would have reviewed his office conduct. In the second proposal, introduced Sunday morning in an try to appease legislative leaders, Cuomo requested James and the state’s chief appeals court docket choose, Janet DiFiore, to collectively appoint a lawyer to analyze the claims and problem a public report.
James stated neither plan went far sufficient.
“I do not accept the governor’s proposal,” she stated. “The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral. 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, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”
Many of the most important names in New York politics lined up rapidly behind James.
The state legislature’s two high leaders, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, each stated they needed her to deal with the investigation.
New York’s two U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, each stated an unbiased investigation was important.
“These allegations are serious and deeply concerning. As requested by Attorney General James, the matter should be referred to her office so that she can conduct a transparent, independent and thorough investigation with subpoena power,” Gillibrand stated.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated, “There should be an independent review looking into these allegations.” She stated that’s one thing President Joe Biden helps “and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible.”
The requires an investigation into Cuomo’s office conduct intensified after a second former worker of his administration went public Saturday with claims she had been harassed.
Charlotte Bennett, a low-level aide within the governor’s administration till November, advised The New York Times Cuomo asked inappropriate questions about her intercourse life, together with whether or not she ever had intercourse with older males, and made different feedback she interpreted as gauging her curiosity in an affair.
Her accusation got here days after one other former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for financial improvement and particular adviser to the governor, elaborated on harassment allegations she first made in December. Boylan stated Cuomo subjected her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate feedback about her look.
Cuomo, 63, stated in a press release Saturday he had supposed to be a mentor for Bennett, who’s 25. He has denied Boylan’s allegations.
The furor over the sexual harassment allegations comes amid a brand new spherical of criticism over his management model and actions his administration took to guard his fame as an early chief within the nation’s coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo had gained reward as a robust hand on the helm throughout final spring’s disaster of rising case counts and overflowing morgues. His ebook, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was revealed in October.
But in current weeks his administration was pressured to revise its depend of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes following criticism that it had undercounted the fatalities to blunt accusations that a few of his administration’s insurance policies had made the scenario within the properties worse.
James fueled a few of that criticism by issuing a report that raised questions on whether or not the Cuomo administration had undercounted deaths.
Cuomo was additionally criticized after a state Assembly member went public with a narrative of being politically threatened by Cuomo over feedback he made to a newspaper in regards to the governor’s coronavirus management. Cuomo stated his feedback have been being mischaracterized.
Now, his assist is eroding sooner.
“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated on Twitter Sunday. “There must be an independent investigation — not one led by an individual selected by the Governor, but by the office of the Attorney General.”
A gaggle of greater than a dozen Democratic ladies within the state Assembly stated in a press release: “The Governor’s proposal to appoint someone who is not independently elected, has no subpoena authority, and no prosecutorial authority is inadequate.”
Matthews reported from New York City.
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