The state attorney general’s office corroborated multiple sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The report also said that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment.”
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Two numbers suggest the weight of evidence against New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo. The state attorney general investigated allegations of sexual harassment, and the result is a report running 165 pages, finding that 11 women told the truth. When the attorney general released that report yesterday, Cuomo was ready with a videotaped statement insisting the allegations are wrong. In a moment, we question a state lawmaker who’s been pushing to impeach the governor. We begin with Gwynne Hogan of our member station WNYC. And let’s just warn people first – we’re going to discuss some details that people will find disturbing, and we’re going to be talking for several minutes here. Gwynne, good morning.
GWYNNE HOGAN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: What’s in all those pages?
HOGAN: So I have one more number for you. Investigator – or two more numbers. Investigators interviewed 179 people and looked at more than 70,000 pieces of evidence for this report, and it really corroborates the stories of 11 women with contemporaneous texts they sent to friends and family, notes and emails sent by senior staffers. Overall, it paints this clear picture of Cuomo’s pattern of targeting young women and effort senior staffers took to cover for him. One of these allegations rises to a criminal offense. That involves an aide who said Cuomo groped her inside the executive mansion late last year. And there were new accounts as well that had not been previously reported, one from a state trooper who was assigned to Cuomo’s security detail who said Cuomo made sexually explicit comments about her and twice rubbed his finger up and down and across her body.
INSKEEP: What did you make of Cuomo’s videotaped response in which he also played a kind of slideshow of Andrew Cuomo kissing people on the forehead, kissing people on the cheek, on the hand?
HOGAN: That’s right. He had the slideshow with all of these politicians, him and others, you know, embracing people in public. He prepared his own report where he also included these slides, and he took a similar tack as he previously had. He denied some of the allegations, the most severe ones. And he – but he also admitted that some of his actions were – or he says that his actions were misconstrued and still insists that he did nothing wrong.
INSKEEP: What do the – what do his accusers have to say about that?
HOGAN: So I spoke to Ana Liss, who was one of the women who publicly accused Cuomo earlier this year. She spoke to investigators about her experiences between 2013 and 2015. She’s described a toxic work environment with constant yelling from top aides, but that she was treated like an ornament, told to wear heels, told that Cuomo liked blondes. She says she couldn’t bring herself to watch Cuomo’s remarks.
ANA LISS: It’s not up to him to decide whether there was any damage done. His victims spoke up and said, my career was hurt by this behavior. I felt ashamed because of this behavior. I felt targeted. I was one of those women. I certainly paid a price then, up until now.
HOGAN: Liss says she’s been harassed online since she came forward, but she says she feels relieved that the report verified what so many women have described.
INSKEEP: OK. President of the United States now thinks Cuomo should go – or says Cuomo should go. The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, says Cuomo should go. Legislators, including one we’re about to hear from, think Cuomo should go. He’s not going. What happens next?
HOGAN: So New York state’s assembly has the power to start impeachment proceeding, much like Congress, which would then go to the state Senate for a trial, and state legislators were already investigating Cuomo. But up until now, the leader of the state assembly, Democrat Carl Heastie, had resisted calling for Cuomo’s resignation. He changed his tune last night. He says the Democratic majority no longer has confidence in Cuomo. But exactly what the timeline is of a potential impeachment – it’s very unclear at this point.
INSKEEP: WNYC’s Gwynne Hogan. Thanks for the update.
HOGAN: Thanks, Steve.
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