New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks from the One World Trade Center Tower while making an announcement in New York City, New York, U.S., June 15, 2021.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday strongly denied claims in a bombshell report by the state Attorney General’s Office, which found that he had sexually harassed at least 11 women and oversaw a “toxic culture” of fear and intimidation in his office.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said.
“I am 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public view. That is just not who I am.”
Cuomo said his lawyer has prepared a point-by-point rebuttal to the findings of the scathing report overseen by AG Letitia James after an investigation in which he was questioned for 11 hours.
“The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” the governor said. “Read the facts and decide for yourself.”
He flatly denied an allegation that he groped a woman in the office of his home in Albany after summoning her to the governor’s mansion.
“That never happened,” Cuomo said.
The Democratic governor also accused investigators of bias, and implied that the probe was infected by politics.
“Politics and bias are interwoven throughout every aspect of this investigation,” Cuomo said. “One would be naive to think otherwise, and New Yorkers are not naive.”
But Cuomo also said that he understood that he had behaved toward some women in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. In one case, he noted, The New York Times had run a photo on its front page of him holding a woman’s face as she grimaced.
That woman took offense as his gesture, which Cuomo claimed was “meant to convey warmth, nothing more.”
“For that, I apologize,” said Cuomo. “I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspective that frankly I hadn’t fully appreciated, and I have learned form this.”
Earlier Tuesday, James and investigators detailed the report, which reignited calls for Cuomo to resign.
The report said Cuomo had harassed women who worked in and out of state government, including a state trooper who was assigned to his personal security detail.
James is herself a Democrat, and has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor, whether or not Cuomo resigns or seeks re-election next year.
Cuomo opened his response Tuesday by saying, “It has been a hard and painful period for me and my family.”
The governor said that in response to accusations against him, “I’ve brought in an expert to design new sexual harassment policy and procedures.”
He took no questions from reporters after responding to the report in a statement that was livestreamed by his office.
The report Tuesday noted that Cuomo had “made specific denials of conduct that the complainants recalled clearly.”
“We found his denials to lack credibility and to be inconsistent with the weight of the evidence obtained during our investigation,” the report concluded.
“We also found the Governor’s denials and explanations around specific allegations to be contrived.”
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