Gov. Cuomo Case: Biden Says Cuomo Should Resign If Investigation Finds Sexual Harassment Claims Are True
Multiple women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Cuomo.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo should resign if the attorney general's investigation into the sexual harassment claims against him are true. Biden added that Cuomo would "probably be prosecuted" if the claims are valid.
Early this year, the Cuomo administration was accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of seriously undercounting the number of nursing home deaths. Amid those reports, women began to come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo too. James' office is also conducting a probe into those allegations.
"A woman should be presumed telling the truth and should not be scapegoated and become victimized by her coming forward," Biden said in response to a question by ABC News Reporter George Stephanopoulos about the situation.
The New York State Assembly has begun a separate impeachment investigation into the COVID-19 nursing home deaths and sexual harassment allegations as well. Here is a timeline of events:
Lindsay Boylan accuses Cuomo of Sexual Harassment (Dec. 13, 2020)
Before news on the alleged nursing home data inconsistencies came to light, a former aide of Cuomo, Lindsey Boylan, accused him of sexual harassment in a several tweets.
“Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched,” Boylan wrote. “I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years.”
The next day at a press briefing, Cuomo said Boylan’s claims were “simply not true.”
On Feb. 24, Boylan expanded her claims, alleging that Cuomo also said “Let’s play strip poker” during a 2017 flight, and in 2018, he kissed her on the lips at his New York office. Cuomo’s team again disputed those claims and released statements from other aides on the flight that said it “did not happen.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James releases report about incorrect nursing home data (Jan. 28, 2021)
A report is released by James claiming that the official nursing home death toll from New York may be “undercounted by approximately 50%,” because the state didn’t include deaths of nursing home residents who died of COVID-19 at hospitals. The attorney general’s office also said they received hundreds of complaints which claimed the state failed to properly manage the nursing home crisis to its COVID-neglect hotline, which began in April 2020.
The report also said that on March 25, 2020, the Cuomo administration told nursing homes it was OK to accept people who had tested positive for COVID-19, and it was that decision that put nursing home residents at increased risk. Among other criticisms in the report included issues with infection control, lack of personal protective equipment and inefficient staffing.
The Cuomo administration initially responded to the report by saying that they did not include nursing home residents who died in the hospital as part of the official nursing home death numbers to avoid a “double count” in the statewide tally. Now, federal prosecutors alongside the FBI are investigating the handling of COVID-19 nursing home data in the state.
In mid-February at a press conference, Cuomo took responsibility for a “void” in nursing home data after there were published reports that said the Cuomo administration delayed responding to a request for nursing home data in July because they were afraid it would be “used against” them by former President Donald Trump.
Karen Hinton accuses Cuomo of bullying, and later sexual assault (Feb. 24, 2021)
A second former Cuomo staffer, Karen Hinton, came forward to accuse Cuomo of creating a toxic workplace environment and bullying.
“He made me feel as if I were no good at my job and thus totally dependent on him to keep it,” Hinton wrote. She also said: “working for him is like a 1950s version of marriage. He always, always, always comes first. Everyone and everything else — your actual spouse, your children, your own career goals — is secondary. Your focus 24 hours a day is on him.”
On March 6, Hinton also told The Washington Post that Cuomo summoned her to a “dimly lit” hotel room in 2000 after a work event and pulled her toward him before she backed out of the room.
Mr. Cuomo claimed to The New York Times that Hinton's account was a lie, saying “Every woman has a right to come forward. That’s true. But the truth also matters. What she said is not true,” Mr. Cuomo said of Ms. Hinton. “She has been a longtime political adversary of mine.”
Charlotte Bennett, another former aide, makes a sexual harassment claim Against Cuomo (Feb. 28, 2021)
Bennett, 25, says the incident occurred when she was working as Cuomo’s executive assistant last spring. Bennett told The New York Times that Cuomo asked her “numerous questions about her personal life, including whether she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, and had said that he was open to relationships with women in their 20s — comments she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship.”
She also told the paper that after she spoke up about the encounter to Cuomo’s chief of staff and Judith Mogul, she was transferred to health policy adviser position.
Cuomo responded to the allegations in The New York Times by saying he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
He also said he had requested an independent review of the matter and asked for people to wait for the results before making judgments, The New York Times reported.
Cuomo releases a statement about the accusations against him (Feb. 28, 2021)
Cuomo agrees to appoint an independent investigator to look into all allegations and releases the following statement:
“Questions have been raised about some of my past interactions with people in the office. I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.
“To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.
“That‘s why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations.
“Separately, my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms. Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period.”
Anna Ruch claims Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed her at a 2019 wedding (March 2, 2021)
Anna Ruch, 33, told The New York Times the at the wedding in New York City, Cuomo put his hand on her lower back and when she removed it with her own hand, the governor said that she seemed “aggressive" and then placed his hand on her cheek. He then allegedly asked her to kiss her.
"I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed," Ruch said, "I turned my head away and didn't have words in that moment.”
Ruch added that she didn't have a choice in his physical dominance over me at that moment. "And that's what infuriates me. And even with what I could do, removing his hand from my lower back, even doing that was not clear enough.”
Cuomo publicly apologizes for his behavior (March 3, 2021)
Amid calls for his resignation, Cuomo apologized for his behavior but maintained that he did not touch anyone inappropriately. He added that he plans to cooperate fully with the attorney general’s investigation.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Cuomo said.
He added: “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it.”
Another former aide Ana Liss accuses Cuomo of inappropriate behavior (March 6, 2021)
Ana Liss, who worked for the governor from 2013-2015, told The Wall Street Journal that Cuomo asked if she had a boyfriend, called her “sweetheart” and kissed her hand. She added that he didn’t ask her about work but was more focused on her appearance.
“I’m not claiming sexual harassment, per se. I’m just saying that it wasn’t a safe space for young women to work, or for women in general,” she told the paper.
An anonymous person makes another sexual harassment allegation to a local newspaper (March 9, 2021)
The woman told the Albany Times Union that Cuomo called her to the executive mansion, saying that he needed help with a cell phone, but when she arrived, he “reached under her blouse and began to fondle her.”
Cuomo denied those allegations, saying: “I have never done anything like this.”
The Albany Times Union reported that the woman didn't file a formal complaint about the alleged incident and that the governor’s counsel said that it only learned about incident from other employees in the office earlier in the week. The governor's office has reported the allegation to police as required by state policy, according to several reports.
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