Radiating defiance of the allegations against him and disdain for the people making them, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced the media in person Monday for the first time since mid-December.
Cuomo was first asked about sexual harassment charges leveled by numerous women against him and then about a New York Times report alleging he had made disparaging remarks about Jewish and transgender people.
When he denied doing anything wrong, a reporter asked why all of his accusers would lie.
“People say a lot of things in politics,” Cuomo said. “That’s, why do people say things? People are venial, people want attention, people are angry, people are jealous. Who knows why people spread rumors?”
The governor, who had not appeared in person before the media in either New York City or the state capital of Albany for months, broke his string before about a dozen media representatives while in Syracuse to announce that the New York State Fair will reopen after being closed in 2020, The Times reported.
Asked whether he sexually harassed, intimidated or groped women who work for him, Cuomo said, “To put it very simply — no.”
That contradicts the accounts of several women whose stories are now being investigated by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In at least two instances, Cuomo allegedly asked women to meet him privately for help with his cellphone. One has said the governor groped her at the Executive Mansion. The other, Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo wanted to sleep with her.
Asked Monday if he regretted using young female staffers to help him with his phone, the governor replied, “No.”
“I have many women who were working in state government. I’m very proud that we probably have more women in senior positions than ever before,” he said. “And I think that’s a good thing.”
Cuomo said the attorney general’s report will not contradict his denials.
“The report can’t say anything different because I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
Bennett’s lawyer attacked Cuomo’s conduct Monday.
“Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo conducted a press conference in which he continued his effort to actively undermine the Attorney General’s independent investigation into his sexual harassment of my client, Charlotte Bennett, and numerous other women,” attorney Debra Katz said in a statement.
“The Governor said he didn’t ‘do anything wrong,’ demonstrating a studied ignorance of both his legal obligations and a revisionist history about his own conduct,” she continued.
“Does he really not understand that sexually propositioning a 25 year-old staffer after making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature is illegal?’’ Katz said. “Or does he continue to believe that the law does not apply to him?
~”Does Cuomo continue to believe that the law does not apply to him?” asks @_char_bennett_‘s lawyer.
“He’s never provided documentation to show he completed the sexual harassment training he mandated for every employer in New York and every employee in the Executive Chamber.” pic.twitter.com/RCDfvGVz6N
— Harry Siegel (@harrysiegel) April 26, 2021
During Monday’s news conference, Cuomo dismissed attacks on his policy of forcing nursing homes to accept COVID patients, which led the thousands of deaths the deaths of thousands of nursing home residents, as “just more of the ugly politics at the time.
He said former President Donald Trump was one of those who made it “a very big issue.”
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