New York’s two Democratic senators on Sunday echoed state Attorney General Letitia James’ name that she be given the ability to analyze accusations of sexual harassment towards Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), rejecting the governor’s bid to nominate an impartial lawyer to look into claims made by two ladies who labored in his workplace.
The statements come amid a rising disaster for the governor, only a day after a second girl accused him of sexual harassment. In an interview with The New York Times, Charlotte Bennet, who was an govt assistant and adviser in his workplace till November, mentioned Cuomo had requested her quite a few inappropriate questions. Her accusation got here simply days after one other former aide, Lindsey Boylan, shared extra particulars about her personal allegations that Cuomo harassed her, together with that he as soon as kissed her without consent.
Cuomo, who has disputed the accounts, seemed to be making an attempt to manage the investigation into the allegations, and initially tried to nominate a retired federal choose who’s near one among his advisers to conduct it. He has since requested James and the chief choose on New York’s highest courtroom to collectively choose an impartial investigator.
“We had selected former Federal Judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics,” Beth Garvey, particular counsel to the governor, mentioned Sunday.
James, nonetheless, has referred to as for the case to be referred to her workplace, one thing solely the governor can do.
In an announcement on Sunday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand referred to as for full investigative energy to be given to James.
“These allegations are serious and deeply concerning,” Gillibrand mentioned Sunday. “As requested by Attorney General James, the matter should be referred to her office so that she can conduct a transparent and thorough investigation with subpoena power.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority chief, additionally mentioned he backed James’ name that her workplace be the lead investigator within the probe.
James has requested Cuomo’s workplace to subject an govt order giving her unique management over the investigation, which might enable her workplace to subject subpoenas that may very well be enforceable in courtroom. She has argued that because the state’s “duly elected attorney general … it is my responsibility to carry out this task.”
“There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary,” James mentioned. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”
Cuomo’s workplace mentioned later Sunday that it had relented to the calls for, noting James would have sole accountability for choosing an outdoor investigator and granting the subpoena energy she requested.
Cuomo launched his own statement on Sunday, saying he by no means supposed to offend anybody, however, “at work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny.”
“I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married,” Cuomo mentioned. “I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”
The governor mentioned he believed his statements “may have been insensitive or too personal … given my position” and apologized if anybody “misinterpreted” them.” He rejected claims that he inappropriately touched or propositioned anybody in his workplace.
Other notable Democrats, together with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), have referred to as for the investigation to be impartial and led by James. White House press secretary Jen Psaki, a longtime Cuomo ally, additionally echoed these calls on Sunday, saying the allegations have been “serious.”
“It was hard to read that story, as a woman,” Psaki mentioned on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
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