Aug 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo's lawyer appears to dig him deeper in controversy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo walks his dog, Captain, at the Executive Mansion in Albany yesterday. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP
Gov. Andrew Cuomo walks his dog, Captain, at the Executive Mansion in Albany yesterday. Photo: Hans Pennink/AP

A lawyer for Cuomo appeared to dig him deeper yesterday as she previewed his sexual harassment defense, arguing that running his hands over a state trooper on the job wasn't necessarily criminal — or even unacceptable.

Why it matters: The defense looks unlikely to persuade New York legislators who are "on the brink" of impeaching Cuomo, as The New Yorker puts it.

The lawyer, Rita Glavin, told CNN's Pamela Brown during a live, 51-minute interview that Cuomo has "talked about how he does slip at times. He's not perfect."

  • When Brown pressed the lawyer on what she meant by "slip," Glavin replied: "Oh, he said it in his video statements ... He will say 'darling,' he will say 'sweetheart,' he does ask people questions about their personal lives. He didn't think that that was improper."

The New York state attorney general's report says there's a trooper on Cuomo's protective detail who he "harassed ... on a number of occasions."

  • "The governor is going to address this very, very soon," Glavin said. "He wants to personally address that."
  • "I can tell you what I’ve read with respect to the state trooper is not criminal conduct," she added.

The anchor, paraphrasing the report, pressed Glavin on the description "that he allegedly touched her down her back, and touched her on the stomach, and between her … belly button and her private parts — that’s not illegal conduct?"

  • Glavin jumped in: "That's not criminal conduct as far as I know."
  • Brown further pressed, asking, "So if he did that, is that acceptable behavior?"
  • "Depends on what the context of the circumstances were," the lawyer replied
  • "[T]he Governor has tremendous respect for her, believes she has been an excellent member of her detail. ... He feels very, very badly about that — that I do know, and I know he's going to address this." 

What's new: An aide who accused Cuomo of groping her spoke publicly for the first time, told "CBS This Morning and the Albany Times Union that "the governor needs to be held accountable."

  • "What he did to me was a crime," said Brittany Commisso, an executive assistant to Cuomo in a "CBS This Morning" interview set to air in full on Monday.
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