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Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFPvia Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James received a formal referral letter on Monday from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to begin an investigation into sexual harassment allegations made against the governor by two of his former aides.

Why it matters: The investigation will provide independent oversight after a lengthy back-and-forth between the offices on how the probe would operate. Findings from the review will be made public after the investigation is complete.

What they're saying: "This is not a responsibility we take lightly as allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously," James said in a statement Monday.

  • New York State employees have been directed to cooperate fully with the investigation, Beth Garvey, special counselor to Cuomo, said in a letter to James' office.

The big picture: Cuomo issued a lengthy statement on Sunday night, saying he "never inappropriately touched anybody" but acknowledged that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation."

  • Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser and executive assistant to Cuomo, alleges that he asked her questions about romantic relationships that "she interpreted as clear overtures to a sexual relationship," the New York Times reports.
  • Lindsey Boylan, a former New York economic development official, alleges that Cuomo at one point gave her "an unsolicited kiss in his Manhattan office," per the Times.

Of note: Cuomo's administration has reportedly retained white-collar defense attorney Elkan Abramowitz, a former federal prosecutor, to handle the sexual harassment claims, as well as allegations that Cuomo's office covered up nursing home COVID-19 deaths, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Go deeper: Cuomo scandal snares Dems on #MeToo

Go deeper

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.

Updated Feb 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Cuomo asks for "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

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.

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.