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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he would authorize and "voluntarily cooperate" with an independent investigation run by New York's attorney general into claims he sexually harassed several women.

The state of play: The statement comes after a day of competing statements from Cuomo and AG Letitcia James over who would oversee an independent investigation into the governor.

What's new: Beth Garvey, special counselor to Cuomo, said the governor would ask James "to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment."

  • "The independent lawyer will be legally designated as a Special Independent Deputy Attorney General and granted all powers provided under Section 63(8) of the Executive Law," she said. "As necessary, other lawyers from the appointed lawyer's firm shall be similarly designated to assist in the review. The lawyer shall report publicly their findings.   The Governor's office will voluntarily cooperate fully."

Details: Earlier Sunday, Garvey said the governor's office has asked James' office and the chief judge of the Court of Appeals "to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report."

  • In a separate statement, James endorsed an "independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor" and said that she stands "ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary."
  • "Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office and must include subpoena power. I urge the governor to make this referral immediately," James said.

Later James made clear she would reject Cuomo's proposal: "To clarify, I do not accept the governor's proposal. The state's Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral."

  • "The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted."

Driving the news: The announcements come after President Biden, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other leading Democrats called for an independent review into the sexual harassment accusations from two of his former aides.

  • Cuomo had initially said a retired judge close to a top aide of his would run an investigation.
  • House Speaker Pelosi called the allegations credible: "The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity. The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved."

Catch up quick: Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser and executive assistant to Cuomo prior to her departure in November, alleges that Cuomo asked her questions about romantic relationships that "she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship," the New York Times reports.

This post has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Feb 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

Cuomo scandal snares Dems on #MeToo

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images   

The searing sexual harassment allegations made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo are trouble for Democrats far beyond Albany and New York.

Why it matters: They hammered Donald Trump after the "Access Hollywood" tape. Pilloried Brett Kavanaugh over Christine Blasey Ford. Defended President Biden when he was accused of inappropriate touching. Now, Democrats have to show whether they walk the "#MeToo" talk.

Cuomo says words may have been "misinterpreted" following allegations of harassment

Andrew Cuomo at a Feb. 22 news conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AF via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a lengthy statement on Sunday saying he "never inappropriately touched anybody" but acknowledged that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation," after two of his former aides accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Prior to Cuomo's statement, in which he adds that he "never inappropriately touched anybody" or meant to make anyone uncomfortable, the governor's office and the state attorney general went back and forth in a public disagreement about how to investigate the allegations.