Cuomo, asked about sex harassment accusations, deflects

Cuomo, asked about sex harassment accusations, deflects
File photo of Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Source: wwny)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Cuomo deflected a series of specific, detailed questions Wednesday about accusations of sexual harassment seven women have levelled against him.

During a telephone question and answer session with reporters, Cuomo repeatedly said he would wait for the state Assembly to complete its investigation before answering questions about any specific allegation of harassment.

Over the past several weeks, Cuomo has denied ever touching anyone in an inappropriate manner, while apologizing for making women feel uncomfortable with his comments and actions.

Wednesday, Cuomo cited both the Assembly investigation - and to a lesser extent, the investigation by the state Attorney General - as a reason for not answering reporters’ questions.

The Assembly investigation is itself controversial; Yahoo News reports members of the state legislature are concerned the investigation is simply a way to slow down the case developing against Cuomo.

Among other things, the outside law firm hired by the Assembly to assist in the investigation reportedly has ties to Cuomo.

Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of phone call, lightly edited. All of the reporter questions and Cuomo’s answers are presented complete.

Jon Campbell/ USA Today reporter: I wanted to ask specifically about the accusations you face from Charlotte Bennett. She said that you asked her if she’s ever been with an older man, and she says you asked her if she practiced monogamy. She said you yourself were open to a relationship with a woman in her 20s. Did any of that happen?

Cuomo: Jon, as I said, the Assembly has a review going on, on just the questions you asked, and questions like it, and I’m going to respect the review and I won’t comment on issues that are subject to the review.

Marcia Kramer/ WCBS TV: Governor, I know you don’t want to talk about the specifics of the probe but I wonder what your reaction was to President Biden saying you could face prosecution. And secondly, I wonder what your reaction is to the Siena poll, where people said they didn’t want you to resign?

Cuomo: I don’t think that’s what President Biden said, Marcia. His words will speak for itself, but I don’t think he said what, the way you paraphrased it. On the Siena poll, I think...that’s what I’m hearing from New Yorkers. I have a job to do, they want me to do a good job. They’re concerned about COVID, they’re concerned about vaccines. They’re concerned about reopening. And they believe in due process, that allegations are not guilt. So, figure out the facts before you make a conclusion. And that’s also common sense.

Anne Thompson/NBC News: Hi Governor. Thank you for doing this call. Let me read to you what President Biden said. And he was asked by George Stephanopoulos if the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign. And the president said yes, I think he probably could end up being prosecuted too. What’s your reaction to that?

Cuomo: If you committed a crime, you could be prosecuted. That’s true. But what President Biden said was, we should do an investigation. The question to President Biden starts with, ‘Do you think the governor should resign, or do you think there should be a review first?’ And the president said there should be a review. I agree with him on that.

The people of New York agree with him on that. People of New York - in the poll Marcia was mentioning, the Siena poll - said 50 to 35 or something like that, that I should not resign. 35 said I should resign. By the way, 35 percent would say I should resign anyway. (laughs) 35 percent, there’s always been 35 percent against me, just on the normal political spectrum. So President Biden’s position is consistent with New Yorkers’ position, is consistent with the Siena poll, is consistent with my position. I’m not gonna resign. Find out the facts and we’ll take it from there.

Gwynne Hogan/WNYC radio: Hey governor, can you hear me?

Cuomo: Yes I can.

Hogan: Hi there. Thanks for taking my call. Can you explain to New Yorkers why your administration leaked Lindsay Boylan’s personnel records, and reportedly circulated a letter trying to gain signatures from former staffers claiming she was, had been backed by Donald Trump supporters after she alleged sexual harassment by you?

Cuomo: That is, Ms. Boylan is, one of the issues that is gonna be reviewed by the Assembly and the Attorney General. And I want them to do their review and let them determine the facts and then we’ll take it from there. You need to know facts. Now we could either debate facts in the media or we could let fact-finders find the facts and then have an intelligent conversation on an agreed-to set of facts, rather than have competing facts.

That’s why the fact finding exercise is right. Find out the facts and then develop an opinion. But have the facts first. And that’s what New Yorkers said they want, that’s what the Assembly is doing, that’s what the Attorney General is doing, so let’s find out the facts and then we all can have an opinion and comment on the facts, once we know the facts. But I’m not gonna comment until those reviews are finished, on any specific issue that they’re looking at.

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