Attorney general releases transcripts from Cuomo investigation

The public can now see some evidence in the sexual harassment case against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York Attorney General Leticia James is releasing hundreds of pages of documents and exhibits.

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The transcripts include interviews with 10 of the women who accused Cuomo of misconduct, plus the interview that Cuomo gave on July 17 to independent investigators hired by James.

During his questioning, Cuomo denied many of the allegations. He claimed he was careful about how he behaved around women, and said several of his accusers had misrepresented what happened. He also bristled at a groping allegation by an aide, Brittany Commisso, who said the former governor grabbed her breast in the Executive Mansion.

"Numerous people have tried to set me up," Cuomo said. "I’m always wary of people. I have phenomenal precautions. It would be an act of insanity."

The Albany County sheriff filed a forcible touching charge against Cuomo last month in Albany City Court over Commisso’s groping accusation.

In her interview, she told investigators Cuomo made quips about her appearance, called her "honey" and asked her about her sex life. She said when she wore a dress rather than pants to work, Cuomo said it was "about time that you showed some leg."

Commisso said she worried she would be the one who would get in trouble if he slapped the governor.

"I would be taken away by the state police officers and I would be the one that would get in trouble and I would be the one to lose my job, not him," she said.

Cuomo is expected to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charge against him in January.

The attorney general’s office released a report in August that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, leading to his resignation one week later.

The documents released Tuesday are part of a "rolling release of transcripts and corresponding exhibits," according to the attorney general’s office.

In his defense to many of the questions investigators ask, Cuomo frames himself as an affectionate person who casually hugs and kisses people and staff because of his Italian roots.

In more than 500 pages of back-and-forth, former governor Andrew Cuomo is questioned by investigators looking into sexual harassment claims.

Transcripts reveal questioning of Cuomo in attorney general probe

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The lawyers ask him about Brittany Commisso—an executive assistant whose allegations against the former governor mirror the criminal complaint filed in Albany County. Investigators press him about comments he made to Commisso—asking whether he commented on her appearance, and his nicknames for her.

Then investigators ask whether he would hug her—Cuomo says, "She was very affectionate. I would say more she was the initiator of the hugs. She said that she was Italian and Italians are very affectionate people. But she was a hugger."

They then ask whether the hugs were closer or tighter than they were with other staffers.

Cuomo calls her a tight hugger and an affectionate hugger but says "I would go along with it."

He goes on to deny kissing her on the lips or touching her inappropriately while they hugged.

Commisso’s claim that Cuomo touched her breast is believed to be the center of the criminal complaint. When asked whether it happened, he repeats "that never happened" over and over. He says it would be an "act of insanity."

Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi says the transcripts reveal the “shoddy and politically motivated” nature of the final report conducted by Attorney General Letitia James.

James recently announced she is running for governor in 2022.

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Gov. Cuomo’s spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, released this statement:

“Finally — after three months for stalling — Tish James has been forced to release transcripts as more and more people are questioning her shoddy and politically motivated report. However, these transcripts include questionable redactions, and raise even more questions about key omissions made during this slanted process, which reeks of prosecutorial misconduct. This was clearly done to change the subject, but the attorney general needs to answer the following questions.”

  1. In the Governor’s testimony he said directly to Joon Kim that Ibrahim Khan — the AG’s chief of staff— had been coordinating with Trip Yang and Lindsey Boylan‘s campaign and that it suggested collusion between James and Boylan. Other than to hide this obvious conflict of interest, why was this information redacted?
  2. In the Boylan testimony, why didn’t they ask her about the fact that Liz Fine, current counsel to the governor, requested Boylan‘s termination for abusing staff?
  3. Why didn’t they question Boylan about her texts to executive chamber staff specifically saying she would retaliate against the governor because “life is long and so is my memory and so are my resources” and “the future is coming after (expletive.)”
  4. Brittany Commisso testified that the governor became more reserved after Boylan started tweeting attacks against him. Did James tell Sheriff Apple that the new date of her allegation, December 7, was after Boylan started tweeting and therefore inconsistent with Commisso’s testimony?
  5. James said that she spoke to politicians in Albany for her investigation. Who are those politicians that James spoke to to inform her investigation and where are their transcripts?
  6. James’ press release now says it was an “independent investigation." However, just four weeks ago James said that she personally conducted the investigation. Was she lying then or is she lying now?
  7. Why didn’t investigators ask Charlotte Bennett about her activity at Hamilton College and her filing a false allegation?
  8. Why did they omit the circumstances that caused the governor to talk to Bennett and provided the motivation for their conversation?
  9. Why is James suddenly releasing the transcripts now after she said she had sent them to several district attorneys who are doing investigations?
  10. Are the other district attorneys besides Albany not doing investigations?

The more we know about this investigation the more we know what a fraud it was.

Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, released this statement:

“The Attorney General’s slow-rolling and selective disclosure to the world now of the 41 transcribed interviews (out of the 179 people interviewed and 74,000 documents collected) is obvious: The AG wants to prejudice people against the Governor while the criminal charge unilaterally initiated by Sheriff Apple is pending, and distract from the AG’s misleading and unreliable report. The Attorney General deliberately harms a pending case by broadcasting to each witness what other witnesses have testified to, and spreading false and salacious hearsay and rumors. No legitimate law enforcement officer acts like this in a pending case. Disturbingly, this has never been about fairness or due process.”