New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks from the One World Trade Center Tower during an announcement in New York City, New York, US, June 15, 2021.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Controversial New York Governor Andrew Cuomo strongly denied claims Tuesday in an explosive report from the attorney general’s office, which found that he had sexually harassed at least 11 women and oversaw a “toxic culture” of fear. and harassment in his office.
“I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” Cuomo said.
“I’m 63 years old. I’ve lived my entire adult life in public. That’s just not who I am.”
Cuomo said his attorney Rita Glavin refuted the findings of the damning report overseen by Attorney General Letitia James point by point after an investigation in which he was questioned for 11 hours.
“The facts are very different from what has been portrayed,” the governor said. “Read the facts and judge for yourself.”
He flatly denied a claim that he had groped a woman in the office of his Albany home after summoning her to the governor’s mansion.
“That never happened,” Cuomo said.
The Democratic governor also accused investigators of bias, suggesting the probe was politically tainted.
“Politics and bias are intertwined in every aspect of this research,” Cuomo said. “One would be naive to think otherwise, and New Yorkers are not naive.”
But Cuomo also said he understood that he had behaved towards some women in ways that made them uncomfortable. In one instance, he noted, The New York Times had posted a front-page photo of him showing a woman’s face while grimacing.
That woman took offense at his gesture, which Cuomo said was “intended to transfer heat, nothing more.”
“I apologize for that,” Cuomo said. “I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that I honestly wouldn’t have fully appreciated, and I’ve learned from this.”
That 85-page rebuttal by Cuomo’s attorney bizarrely contained eight pages of photos of the governor embracing various people, and another 15 of hugs involving political figures, including President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State and US Senator from New York.
Glavin said in that rebuttal: “Unfortunately, as the findings in the report show, the researchers conducted an extremely biased investigation and deliberately ignored evidence that is inconsistent with the narrative they have tried to weave from the start.”
“When they came to their conclusion, they ignored the governor’s testimony and the substantial corroborating evidence, and were not candid about that fact during a press conference announcing their findings,” Glavin said. “We have just received the report and are reviewing it and will supplement this statement. But even on a quick initial review, it is clear that the report is deliberately omitting important evidence.”
Earlier Tuesday, James and investigators detailed the report’s conclusions, which immediately rekindled calls for Cuomo’s resignation.
The report said Cuomo had harassed women who worked in and outside the state government, including a state agent assigned to his personal security detail.
James is also a Democrat and has been named as a possible candidate for governor whether Cuomo steps down or seeks re-election next year.
Cuomo opened his response Tuesday by saying, “It’s been a tough and painful period for me and my family.”
The governor said in response to allegations against him, “I have engaged an expert to design new sexual harassment policies and procedures.”
He did not answer questions from reporters after responding to the report in a statement livestreamed by his office.
Tuesday’s report noted that Cuomo had “made specific denials of conduct that the complainants clearly remembered.”
“We found that his denials were not credible and inconsistent with the weight of the evidence obtained during our investigation,” the report concluded.
“We also felt that the governor’s denials and statements around specific allegations were contrived.”
Mariann Wang, an attorney for two of Cuomo’s accusers, called the governor’s response to James’s report “laughable” in a statement.
“He’s manipulative, as he always has been,” Wang said. “He is not accused of being a kind but kind boss. And the women who experience his unwanted sexual touches are not fools, as he apparently thinks they are.”
“Independent investigators have found that he has touched women in their intimate parts and routinely humiliated the women who work with him by treating them as sexual objects,” Wang said.
“He touched one woman’s chest, another woman’s abdomen and the back of her neck and spine, he grabbed the backs or buttocks of several women. These are not charming displays of affection. They were sexual. He knew that when he did it, and the women experienced this as unwanted sexual touching. He appears to have been doing this for years.”
— CNBCs Christina Wilkie and Thomas Frank contributed to this report.