ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged for the primary time Sunday that a few of his behavior with ladies “may have been insensitive or too personal,” and stated he would cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation led by the state’s lawyer common.
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 individuals 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.
Cuomo, considered one of America’s most distinguished governors, is dealing with essentially the most critical problem of his decade in workplace following claims he sexually harassed a minimum of two ladies who labored for him. Democrats in New York and across the nation aren’t rallying to his aspect, leaving him more and more remoted from conventional allies.
His partial admission of wrongdoing got here after a day of wrangling over who ought to examine his office behavior.
By day’s finish, Cuomo had appeared to acquiesced to calls for that Attorney General Letitia James management the inquiry.
James stated Sunday night that she anticipated to obtain a proper referral that will give her workplace subpoena energy and permit her to rent and deputize an out of doors legislation agency for “a rigorous and independent investigation.”
“This is not a responsibility we take lightly,” stated James, a Democrat who has been, at occasions, allied with Cuomo however is independently elected and had emerged as a consensus selection to steer a probe.
Calls for an investigation mounted after a second former worker of Cuomo’s 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 requested 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 undesirable kiss and inappropriate feedback about her look.
Cuomo, 63, stated in a short assertion Saturday he had supposed to be a mentor for Bennett, who’s 25. He has denied Boylan’s allegations.
Over a number of hours Sunday, James and different main social gathering officers rejected two of Cuomo’s proposals for the way an investigation would possibly proceed.
Under his first plan, introduced Saturday night, a retired federal choose picked by Cuomo, Barbara Jones, would have reviewed his office behavior. In the second proposal, introduced Sunday morning in an try to appease legislative leaders, Cuomo requested James and the state’s chief appeals courtroom choose, Janet DiFiore, to collectively appoint a lawyer to research the claims and concern a public report.
James stated neither plan went far sufficient.
“I do not accept the governor’s proposal,” she stated, demanding a proper referral that will give her workplace extra authority to subpoena paperwork and witness testimony.
Many of the largest names in New York politics lined up shortly behind James.
The state legislature’s two prime leaders, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, each stated they wished her to deal with the investigation. Republican leaders had, for days, known as on James to launch a probe. On Sunday, Republican state Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt known as on Cuomo to resign.
New York’s two U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, each stated an impartial 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.
Former Fox News and NBC journalist Megyn Kelly, whose sexual harassment allegations towards late Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes helped result in his ouster, tweeted Sunday, “Is it ‘playful’ to touch one’s employees’ legs & kiss them on the lips against their will? Bc better men than A Cuomo have been fired for that.”
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 furor over the sexual harassment allegations comes amid a brand new spherical of criticism over Cuomo’s management type and actions his administration took to guard his fame as an early chief within the nation’s coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo had received reward as a robust hand on the helm throughout final spring’s disaster of rising case counts and overflowing morgues. His e-book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was revealed in October.
But in latest weeks his administration was compelled to revise its rely of COVID-19 deaths in nursing houses 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 houses 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 concerning the governor’s coronavirus management. Cuomo stated his feedback have been being mischaracterized.
Now, his assist is eroding quicker.
“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 bunch 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.