Updated Aug 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo under criminal investigation for sexual misconduct

Cuomo
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is under criminal investigation after an independent investigation found that he sexually harassed multiple women, including employees in his office, in violation of state and federal law, the Albany County district attorney said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Cuomo, who has denied wrongdoing and urged critics to wait for the results of the independent inquiry, will now face renewed pressure to resign. He must also determine whether he will continue his 2022 re-election campaign.

Driving the news: The investigation found that Cuomo engaged in unwanted and inappropriate groping, kissing, hugging, and comments that accusers called "deeply humiliating, uncomfortable, offensive, or inappropriate," according to a report authored by investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark.

  • Cuomo and his staff took steps to retaliate against at least one former employee for coming forward with her story, and fostered a "toxic" workplace that enabled sexual harassment to occur, the report found.
  • "This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government," New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference Tuesday. "And shines light on injustice that can be present at the highest levels of government. But none of this, none of this would have been illuminated if not for the heroic women who came forward."

The latest: Cuomo refused to resign in a video statement released Tuesday, denying that he has ever touched anyone inappropriately and claiming that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed."

What's next: James said that the investigation was civil in nature, and that the findings therefore have no criminal consequences.

  • The accusers can decide for themselves whether they want to bring a civil lawsuit, and any prosecutors are free to examine the public evidence to determine whether they want to pursue further action, Clark added.
  • Asked whether Cuomo should resign, James responded: "That decision is going to be up to the governor of the state of New York. The report speaks for itself."

Between the lines: Investigators appointed by the attorney general interviewed 179 individuals and reviewed more than 74,000 documents, emails, texts, and pictures, according to a press release. Evidence will be made available to the public along with the report.

  • Cuomo sat for interviews with the investigators and answered questions under oath. He denied the most serious allegations by offering "blanket denials" or claiming that he had a "lack of recollection as to specific incidents," according to the report.

The big picture: After the cascade of harassment accusations came to light in March, Cuomo's resignation was demanded by both of New York's U.S. senators, almost the whole 29-member congressional delegation, and a majority of Democrats in the state legislature.

  • President Biden, who also faced allegations of inappropriate touching during his presidential run, said at the time that he would wait for the results of the investigation before commenting on whether the governor should resign.
  • Asked whether Cuomo should resign if the investigation corroborated the allegations, Biden told ABC News: "Yes. I think he'll probably end up being prosecuted, too."
  • Axios has reached out to the White House for comment.

Read the full report.

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