August 3, 2021 Gov. Andrew Cuomo investigation

By Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT) August 4, 2021
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8:17 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Here are the key findings of the Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment report

From CNN's Tierney Sneed, Eric Bradner and Sonia Moghe

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."

Read more about the report here.

7:31 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Woman who accused Cuomo of sexual harassment says if he doesn't step down, he must be impeached

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

Charlotte Bennet appears on CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell.
Charlotte Bennet appears on CBS Evening News with Norah O'Donnell. (From CBS Evening News)

A former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has accused him of sexual harassment spoke out after the governor made a recorded statement on Tuesday denying allegations made by Attorney General Letitia James that he sexually harassed multiple people. 

“If he’s not willing to step down, then we have a responsibility to act and impeach him,” Charlotte Bennett, the second woman to go public with sexual harassment allegations against the governor, said in an interview with Norah O’Donnell on "CBS Evening News" on Tuesday.

Bennett said that Tuesday was validating and that she feels vindicated. “He’s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship,” Bennett explained.

She denied Cuomo’s claim that he was trying to help her through a difficult time saying, “No. His intention was trying to sleep with me.”

Bennett said that Cuomo plays dumb publicly but “privately, he knows that he sexually harassed staffers and I think it’s easier to explain his behavior publicly by saying there was some misunderstanding."

She said that the only way Cuomo could accept responsibility is to step down. “I don’t want an apology, it’s not necessary, it's fake,” she said.

The former aide also called the picture montage Cuomo shared during his recorded statement a “propaganda video," adding that it was “not only inappropriate but downright weird and unnecessary.”

Bennett accused Cuomo of only protecting himself and his office. “It is not protecting New York. He is not speaking for New Yorkers. He is not trying to do anything other than maintain the power that he has currently,” she told O’Donnell. She said that Cuomo is normalizing victim-blaming and sexual harassment and called his reaction to the district attorney’s announcement “a circus act.”

“I think his comments are dangerous. I think it sends a message to New Yorkers that sexual harassment is not important, that it is not dangerous….it is. It is important and it’s also just plain illegal.”

8:33 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

New York City mayor says Cuomo should resign immediately 

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

(CNN)
(CNN)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign immediately or face impeachment, saying he believes the governor is guilty of "sexual assault" and could be held criminally responsible for his alleged actions. 

"It's disgusting," said de Blasio. "...My heart goes out to these women… They were put through hell by a powerful man who held their career in his hands and used that power to manipulate, to have his way."

"This is textbook sexual harassment and unfortunately... in some cases, sexual assault," he continued. "Disgusting and troubling and unacceptable and he needs to leave office immediately."

De Blasio went on to dismiss the defense Cuomo laid out for himself in a video presentation earlier today as "laughable."

"If he won't resign, he should be impeached as quickly as possible by the state legislator," the mayor said. "He can't govern."

De Blasio went on to suggest he believed the governor should face criminal liability over the allegations.

"It looks that way to me," he said, when asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if Cuomo should he face criminal charges. "Any assault on a woman, and the assault on a woman, you should face criminal charges. But if you, on top of that, use your power and position to think you could cover up the assault, well, that sounds criminal to me." 

Watch:

7:16 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

New York lawmaker says Cuomo "can no longer remain in office"

From CNN's Lauren del Valle

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued an updated statement on Tuesday, saying Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority,” and “can no longer remain in office.”

Heastie said after receiving all relevant documents and evidence from the New York attorney general, they “will move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation.”

Since the scandal embroiled the governor last year, Heastie has repeatedly stayed away from calling for Cuomo's resignation unlike other Democratic leaders. 

Though he is not officially on the Judiciary Committee, which would present articles of impeachment to the State Assembly, his support for impeachment is necessary behind the scenes for the impeachment process to move forward as he is the highest-ranking member in the assembly. 

5:49 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

President Biden calls on Andrew Cuomo to resign

(Susan Walsh/AP)
(Susan Walsh/AP)

President Biden has called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign.

Asked at a press conference today if he will you call on Cuomo to resign given the investigators said the 11 women were credible, Biden said, "Yes."

Biden said that he stood by his statement in March when he said that Cuomo should resign if the allegations were proven by the investigation.

"I think he should resign. I understand that the state legislature may decide to impeach. I don't know that for fact. I have not read all that data," Biden added.

In response to a follow-up question about Cuomo, Biden said that he had not read the report but stands by what he said in March.

"Look, what I said was if the investigation of the attorney general concluded that the allegations are correct, that back in March I would recommend he resign. That's what I'm doing today. I have not read the report. I don't know the detail of it. All I know is the end result." 

Watch:

4:35 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls for Cuomo to resign

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in a statement today.

Here's her statement:

“Under Attorney General Letitia James, a comprehensive and independent investigation into the allegations against Governor Cuomo has been completed.
“As always, I commend the women who came forward to speak their truth.
"Recognizing his love of New York and the respect for the office he holds, I call upon the Governor to resign." 

Some background: Pelosi's statement is a turnaround from her remarks on the allegations against Cuomo in March. At that time, Pelosi told ABC's "This Week" in an interview that women should be believed but stopped short of calling for Cuomo's resignation amid sexual harassment allegations against him.

4:20 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Over two-thirds of New York state senators have called for Cuomo to resign

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

At least 55 of the 63 members of the New York State Senate, which would vote to remove Gov. Andrew Cuomo if he were to be impeached, have now called for his resignation over sexual harassment allegations.

If the governor was impeached by the New York State Assembly and those state senators also voted to find Cuomo guilty, he would be removed from office. 

The New York State Senate would be the legislative body — joined by the seven judges from the New York Court of Appeals — that would vote on any impeachment articles that could be brought. A two-thirds vote by that group would remove an individual, such as the governor, from office.

State law prevents temporary senate president, Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins, from voting to remove the governor; she reiterated on Tuesday that Cuomo should resign.

Individuals removed from office also be barred from holding public office in the future in addition to "any public office of honor, trust, or profit under this state."

CNN has reached out for comment to the remaining six state senators from whom it has not found public statements on whether Cuomo should resign.

Two Democratic state senators, Simcha Felder and Joe Addabbo, have told CNN they do not have a statement at this time on whether Cuomo should resign.

4:54 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

Cuomo must resign "for the sake of the state," New York lawmaker says

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (CNN)

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign today in the wake of the attorney general's report that he sexually harassed multiple women.

"Given the substantiation of the allegations, given the independent investigation by our attorney general, I don't think there's anything more to be said," she told CNN.

"I do believe that for the sake of the state, the governor resigns," she said. "He should resign."

Stewart-Cousins also said she supports efforts in the state assembly to move forward impeachment, and that if articles are sent over to the state's upper chamber, she is prepared to hold a trial and "listen to the presentation of the case and make their judgements from there."

"That is certainly a way to go," she said.

Watch more:

3:36 p.m. ET, August 3, 2021

New York Assembly Democrats are currently meeting in an emergency conference

From CNN’s Lauren del Valle

New York State Assembly Democrats are currently in an emergency conference, discussing the attorney general's report that found several instances of unlawful sexual harassment and retaliation by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to two sources with direct knowledge.

The state legislature is not currently in session but lawmakers can call a special session at any time should they proceed with filing articles of impeachment and impeachment proceedings. 

The Judiciary Committee is currently scheduled to meet Monday to discuss the ongoing impeachment investigation.