Cuomo says he won't resign amid sexual harassment probe

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Cuomo says he won't resign amid sexual harassment probe
Andrew Cuomo faced mounting pressure to resign following Tuesday’s acquittal of Republican President Joe Biden and other onetime allies, after the investigation found he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women and worked to retaliate against one of his accusers. We should resign, Biden told reporters Monday, echoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Biden's New Yorkers. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, all Democrats. The leader of the State Assembly, which has the power to raise impeachment charges, said it was clear Cuomo could no longer remain in office. Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat, said he would move to begin an impeachment inquiry 'as quickly as possible. Cuomo defiantly said in a taped response to the findings that 'the facts are much different than what has been portrayed' and that he 'never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances' In a phone conversation with Heastie, Cuomo announced he won't leave office and told the speaker he needed to work fellow Democrats and garner enough votes to stop an impeachment. Heastie said he couldn't do that, said the person, who could not publicly discuss details of private conversation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The almost five-month, non-criminal investigation, led by New York's attorney general and led by two outside lawyers, concluded that 11 women were telling the truth when they said Cuomo had touched them inappropriately, commented on their appearance or made suggestive comments about their sex lives. Those accusers included an aide who said Cuomo groped her breast at the governor's mansion, and a state trooper on his security details who said he ran his hand or fingers across her stomach and back. Anne Clark, who led the probe with former U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, said the allegations had varying degrees of corroboration including other witnesses and contemporaneous text messages. Investigators interviewed 179 people, including governor himself. These interviews and pieces of evidence reveal a clearly disturbing yet deeply disturbing picture: Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former federal employees in violation of state laws, New York Attorney-General Letitia James said at a press conference on Tuesday. Many feared retaliation if they reported Cuomo's behavior, investigators said, describing his administration as a hostile workplace 'rife with fear and intimidation. On one occasion, the probe discovered, Cuomo's staff took action 'intended to discredit and disparage' an accuser — Lindsey Boylan, the first former employee to publicly accuse him of wrongdoing, including leaking confidential personnel files and drafting a letter attacking her credibility. The investigation's findings, detailed in a 165 page public report, turn up the pressure on the 63-year-old governor who widely hailed for his steady leadership in the darkest days of COVID - 19 crisis just a year ago, even writing a book about it. Since then, he's seen his standing crumble with a drumbeat of harassment allegations, questions in a separate, ongoing inquiry into whether state resources went into writing the book, and discovered that his administration concealed the true number of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. Schumer and Gillibrand said Tuesday's report only reinforces the calls they and other New York Democrats made for Cuomo to quit after the bulk of the allegations were made public last winter. 'No elected official is above the law. "We continue to believe the Governor should resign, they said in a joint statement. While James opened the investigation without referring the case to local authorities for possible criminal charges, local authorities could use its evidence and findings to mount cases. James' office said he would request materials from Albany District Attorney David Soares and welcomed victims to contact him. Cuomo said the investigation's findings are crucial to expediting the current state assembly inquiry into whether there are grounds to impeach Heastie, who raised money for a potential fourth term. The Assembly hired its own legal team to investigate myriad allegations concerning harassment, his book, nursing homes and special access to COVID - 19 testing. Cuomo apologized to two accusers in his taped response: Charlotte Bennett, who said the governor asked if she was open with an older man after she confided that she had been a sexual assault victim, and a woman he kissed at a wedding. Cuomo said he hired an expert to reform sexual harassment training for state employees, including the governor. But he denied other allegations as fabricated and lashed out at the investigative process, saying it was fed by 'politics and bias. He explained that he's embraced people his whole life, that his mother and father — former Gov. Mario Cuomo — had done the same and that the gesture was intended to convey warmth. Cuomo's lawyer issued a written rebuttal to the investigation's findings, arguing in most cases that serious allegations, like the alleged groping, didn't happen or that his actions were misconstrued. 'For those using this moment to use public space to score political points or seek personal gain. I say they actually discredit the legitimate sexual harassment victims that the law was designed to protect, Cuomo said. If he is sorry, he would step down. That's how accountability works, she told the AP. I don't believe he will resign. I think it is the speaker's job now to commence impeachment proceedings. The report detailed the allegations concerning the state trooper for the first time. It said that in addition to touching her, Cuomo kissed her on the cheek, asked for her help in finding a girlfriend and asked why she didn't wear dress. The report included an allegation from a woman working for an energy company who said Cuomo touched her chest at an event, traversing his fingers across the lettering on her shirt and reading the name of her company aloud. According to the report, he then leaned in and said she: 'I mean I see a spider on your shoulder' before brushing his hand between her shoulder and breasts. 'These brave women stepped forward to speak truth to power and expressed confidence in the belief that although the governor may be powerful, the truth is even more so, Kim told reporters. Boylan faced multiple accusations, starting with Cuomo, who said Cuomo touched her on the lips after a meeting at his office and 'would go out of his way to kiss me on my lower back, arms and legs. After Boylan went public, Cuomo's staff released personnel memos to the media revealing that she left the administration after being confronted with complaints she belittled and yelled at her staff. Boylan has said the leak was an attempt to smear me. In an interview with investigators dated December 11, 2013, Cuomo demolished certain behaviors while denying other allegations, investigators said. For example, Bennett said that he conceded asking Clark whether she had been involved with older men and said he could have kissed the state trooper at an event but denied touching her. Asked about an allegation that he grabbed a woman's breast at the Executive Mansion, Cuomo responded: I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing' to a woman whom he hardly knew, with multiple staff members around. Cuomo initially denied inappropriate touching, but he first said he was sorry if his behavior with women was misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation. He got more combative in recent months, saying he did nothing wrong and questioning the neutrality of lawyers leading the probe. Cuomo was involved in previous investigations of corruption by people in Kim's administration. New York State regulations define sexual harassment to include offensive conduct of a nature — from unwanted flirtation to sexual jokes — that creates an unwelcome environment regardless of a perpetrator's intent. Cuomo championed a landmark 2019 state law that made it easier for sexual harassment victims to prove their case in court. Allented victims no longer have to meet the high bar of proving sexual harassment is'severe and pervasive.