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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.

What they're saying: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the women's "detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read," and said the state attorney general should investigate.

  • She was among several Democrats said an "independent review" announced by Cuomo was inadequate.
  • President Biden would support an independent review into the allegations of sexual misconduct and believes the review should move "as quickly as possible," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday on CNN.
  • "This is no joke," Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) tweeted above the Times story. "There must be an independent investigation into these allegations. The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator. PERIOD."

Charlotte Bennett, 25, an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until November, told The Times that the governor, 63, had harassed her during the height of the state's COVID fight, including asking whether "she had ever had sex with older men."

  • The most disturbing encounter came June 5, when she was alone with Cuomo in his Capitol office, The Times reports:
[S]he said the governor had 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.
  • Bennett said Cuomo complained about being lonely during the pandemic, mentioning that he "can’t even hug anyone," then asking her: "Who did I last hug?"

Cuomo requested an independent review, and said in a statement that he had intended to act as a mentor: "I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate."

  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that she wants an independent investigation and said of the one Cuomo announced: "I wouldn't consider that to be independent."

On Wednesday, former aide Lindsey Boylan, 36, wrote that Cuomo suggested: "Let’s play strip poker."

Go deeper

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

Mitch McConnell's remarks on Black voters raise ire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell during a Capitol Hill news conference earlier this year. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been widely criticized for comments he made this week about Black American voters.

Driving the news: When asked by a reporter Wednesday about concerns among voters of color, McConnell said "the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, Black American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."