New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women and created a "hostile" work environment for women, a report released Tuesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
The damning findings of her civil review into the harassment allegations have created a political firestorm around Cuomo after what has already been a scandal-plagued couple of months for the governor.
President Biden said Cuomo should resign. New York legislators of both parties vehemently condemned Cuomo's conduct and are contemplating whether further action should be taken against the governor. Cuomo denies the allegations and has shown no willingness to resign over them.
Here's what to know from the report and what to expect next:
- The report: The investigators said they found a "pattern" of inappropriate behavior by Cuomo, which included both "unwanted" touching and comments of a "suggestive and sexual nature." All told, Cuomo harassed multiple women, both current and former staff members, and women outside of his office also reported harassment by the governor, the investigators said.
- The allegations: Several women recounted to investigators unwanted touching by Cuomo, according to the report. One of them, a state trooper who served on Cuomo's protective detail, said on one occasion, Cuomo ran his finger down her neck and back while they were in an elevator. On another occasion, he ran his hand from her belly button to her right hip while she was holding the door for him, according to the report.
- "Overwhelming" evidence: The investigation — led by investigators tapped from outside of James' office — was launched earlier this year, and investigators spoke to 179 people, including New York State Troopers, state employees and others who "interacted regularly with" the governor. The governor himself sat for an interview, as did his brother Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor. Investigators also reviewed 74,000 pieces of evidence, including notes, emails and other communications memorializing the allegations.
- The reaction: As Cuomo flounders in New York, national Democrats rushed to distance themselves from him. New York's Democratic US senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, issued a joint statement calling the report's findings "profoundly disturbing, inappropriate and completely unacceptable" and reiterating their March call for Cuomo to resign. Other New York lawmakers similarly said the third-term governor must go — including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political group charged with protecting the party's majority in the 2022 midterm elections. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime ally of the Cuomo family, also said the governor should resign.
- Cuomo's response: In a broadcast response released not long after the report was unveiled, Cuomo gave no indications he planned to resign. "I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," Cuomo said. He touted his cooperation in the attorney general's investigation, but he repeatedly suggested it was biased and tainted with politics. While he straight up denied some of the conduct — such as the alleged groping incident in his governor's mansion office — he claimed other aspects of his behavior described the report had been taken out of context. The governor's office interspersed within his statement photos of Cuomo hugging, kissing and embracing various individuals.
- Are legal consequences coming for Cuomo? At the news conference, James reiterated that her investigation was civil in nature, and that there would not be any criminal actions from office that would follow. "Our work is concluded," James said. Still, the investigators said that Cuomo's violated both state and federal law. Clark, the lawyer leading the investigation, alluded to the possibility of civil lawsuit from the complainants. She also noted that the information had been "fully documented" in the report and was available for other prosecutors to review if they were weighing further action. Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a statement that his office was "formally requesting investigative materials obtained by the AG's Office."