A staffer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo identified in the attorney general probe as "executive assistant #1" has filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff's Office, a spokesperson for the sheriff confirmed Friday.
The complaint was filed a day earlier after the woman met with a Sheriff's investigator in person and discussed the allegations in the report. If proven to be true, the governor could be arrested and possibly charged with a misdemeanor sex assault count. Attorney General Letitia James had noted her investigation was civil but opened the door for other agencies to investigate behavior she said qualified as criminal in nature.
In response to the latest development, Cuomo's advisers referred News 4 New York to a section of their 85-page legal response which states: “This claim is false, as the Governor has stated repeatedly and unequivocally."
In a later press conference, the legal team for the governor categorically denied the woman's claims.
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"That woman's story is false. Documentary evidence does not report what she said," said Cuomo's personal attorney, Rita Glavin. "This does not reflect what the executive assistant told the Times-Union. Why did this report ignore evidence and not want to tell you ... Two investigators did not show evidence to you, they ignored it. Ask them why."
Former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey Paul Fishman, hired to help he executive chamber, previously blasted some of the report's findings as irresponsible and error-filled. On Friday, Glavin slammed the attorney general's entire investigation as well.
"I know the difference between putting together a case against a target, versus doing independent fact-finding with an open mind. There was no open-minded fact-finding in this case," she said. "The investigation was conducted in a manner to support a pre-determined narrative."
Glavin said that the investigators took it upon themselves to act "as prosecutors, judge and jury," and said that she and Cuomo's attorneys were given "no advanced notice, chance to respond to errors or inaccuracies. Not an exercise in truth finding."
The attorney general's office responded to the criticisms from the governor's legal team, saying that redacted versions of the interview transcripts will be made available to the state Assembly.
"The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals, recognized for their legal and investigatory ability. To attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women," said the AG's press secretary, Fabien Levy. "There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate."
The Albany District Attorney's Office, meanwhile, said it is aware of "media reports of formal complaints" filed in the inquiry but would not confirm the reports nor release or disclose any additional documents or information in the case.
"This is an ongoing matter that is under review," the statement said.
The next likely steps in the investigation are to obtain statements made by the unidentified executive assistant #1, ones she made to two other Cuomo staffers (identified as executive assistant #2 and executive assistant #3) about Cuomo’s behavior and alleged groping, and the boyfriend of executive assistant #2, an FBI agent according to the attorney general report, who advised her to obtain counsel.
Cuomo Under Fire
That’s likely going to take some time. The prosecutor will likely want to determine which specific statutes under New York State Criminal Law the governor may allegedly have violated and proceed accordingly.
So yes, Cuomo could be arrested but based on typical timelines for these types of investigations it will almost certainly take days to possibly weeks for this investigation to be completed.
According to the independent report, the governor engaged in what they call a pattern of inappropriate behavior dating back to late 2019 involving Executive Assistant #1.
The report says the behavior included, “close and intimate hugs; kisses on the cheeks, forehead, and at least one kiss on the lips; touching and grabbing of Executive Assistant #1’s butt during hugs and, on one occasion, while taking selfies with him; and comments and jokes by the Governor about Executive Assistant #1’s personal life and relationships, including calling her and another assistant “mingle mamas,” inquiring multiple times about whether she had cheated or would cheat on her husband, and asking her to help find him a girlfriend.”
Ultimately, in November 2020 the Governor’s behavior escalated when he hugged the woman and then allegedly reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast.
The report says, “Executive Assistant #1 kept this groping incident to herself and planned to take it “to the grave,” but found herself becoming emotional (in a way that was visible to her colleagues in the Executive Chamber) while watching the Governor state, at a press conference on March 3, 2021, that he had never “touched anyone inappropriately.”
One of the reasons the independent investigators say that the woman didn’t want to report the conduct was because of what she saw happen to Lindsey Boylan after she went public with her allegations.
The report says, “in mid-to-late December 2020, Executive Assistant #1 personally witnessed what she felt were the Executive Chamber’s efforts to discredit the allegations of Ms. Boylan against the Governor, including by repeatedly describing Ms. Boylan as “crazy” and by trying to get Ms. Boylan’s personnel files to the press.”
She told investigators that the efforts to discredit Boylan – which she says she personally witnessed – were conducted by Linda Lacewell (Superintendent of Financial Services), Melissa DeRosa, Rich Azzopardi, and Beth Garvey.
The investigators write, they found Executive Assistant #1 “to be credible both in demeanor and in the substance of her allegations.”
And they write, “Governor Cuomo denied a number of Executive Assistant #1’s allegations, but we found that his denials lacked persuasiveness, were devoid of detail, and were inconsistent with many witnesses’ observations of his behavior toward Executive Assistant #1 and other women in the Executive Chamber.”
The Governor has denied all of the allegations involving Executive Assistant #1 saying earlier this week, “that never happened” and that he welcomed a potential civil suit from the woman because “I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and a jury, because this just did not happen.”
Glavin provided a timeline of some of what she says happened over several hours the day of the alleged incident at the executive mansion. She said that the woman was at the mansion for a few hours, and was never alone with Cuomo, but rather in areas with other members of the governor's staff. Glavin also said records show the governor's schedule on that day would've made it impossible for the incident to have occurred as Executive Assistant #1 described.
The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee has given Cuomo an Aug. 13 deadline to provide any evidence he wants before the committee considers articles of impeachment against him over the sex harassment scandal.
Meanwhile, the governor continued to hemorrhage what little political support he had left, as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the head of the powerful healthcare workers union 1199SEIU both called for him to resign.
"We write to inform you that the Committee’s investigation is nearing completion and the Assembly will soon consider potential articles of impeachment against your client," the Assembly committee's lawyers wrote to the governor's lawyers.
"Accordingly, we invite you to provide any additional evidence or written submissions that you would like the Committee to consider before its work concludes. To the extent that you wish to share any such materials with the Committee, please do so by no later than 5:00 pm on August 13, 2021," lawyers from Davis Polk & Wardwell wrote.
It's not just political allies that have bailed on Cuomo. A new Quinnipiac Poll released Friday found that seven out of 10 New Yorkers — and 57 percent of state Democrats — want Cuomo to resign, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saying he should be impeached. Compare that to a March 18 poll which showed 43 percent of voters said he should resign. Even more drastic, more than half (55 percent) believe Cuomo should be charged with a crime.
Late on Thursday, Cuomo's top spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, issued a statement saying the governor would present its case before the Assembly.
"The Governor appreciates the opportunity," he said. "We will be cooperating."
"The Assembly has said it is doing a full and thorough review of the complaints and has offered the Governor and his team an opportunity to present facts and their perspective. The Governor appreciates the opportunity. We will be cooperating."
The committee is next set to meet on Monday. It's not clear how long the impeachment process will take, though reports have suggested it could be roughly another month to complete the committee's investigation (combined with the AG's probe), produce its report and articles of impeachment, and then vote on them.
Based on tallies compiled by the AP and others, there appear to be more than sufficient votes to impeach the three-term governor. Under New York law, he would then be temporarily removed from office pending a trial, with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul becoming acting governor in the interim.
Cuomo currently faces no fewer than seven county, state and federal investigations related to alleged sexual harassment, alleged misuse of state resources to produce and promote a 2020 book, and purported cover-ups in COVID nursing home death data.
There are virtually no Democrats left at the local, state or national level who have not called for Cuomo to go.