WH Press Secretary Calls Cuomo Sexual Harassment Allegations 'Serious' and 'Hard to Read'
"President Biden has been consistent that he believes every woman should be heard, should be treated with respect and with dignity," Jen Psaki said.Cuomo, a Democrat, is facing significant criticism and scrutiny after two former staffers came forward alleging the governor sexually harassed them. Lindsey Boylan, who served as deputy secretary for economic development and a special adviser in the Cuomo administration from 2015 to 2018, first came out publicly with allegations against the governor back in December.
CNBC reached out to the nearly two dozen Democratic governors in the U.S. to ask about the sexual harassment allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat.
Only three of the offices responded to CNBC's requests for comment.
On Wednesday, Cuomo apologized but said he did not intend to hurt anyone or make them uncomfortable. He also refused to resign.
Few of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's fellow Democratic governors are speaking out about the sexual harassment claims against the New York leader.
CNBC reached out to the nearly two dozen Democratic governors in the U.S. to ask about the allegations made by two female former Cuomo aides and another woman.
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has faced allegations of sexual assault, bullying, and hiding the true number of COVID-related deaths in state care homes. Over the weekend, a second former aide of Cuomo's came forward with accusations that he sexually harassed her.Charlotte Bennett, a health policy adviser to Cuomo until November, told The New York Times that he had harassed her last year. Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, has also accused the governor of sexual harassment.On his talk show, Hasan asked Ocasio-Cortez at what point does Cuomo's behaviour become "untenable.
Three governor's offices responded: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Maine Gov. Janet Mills. All three governors support an independent investigation into the matter.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke to the Washington Post about the allegations against Cuomo, but a press representative for her office did not respond to CNBC's request for comment.
The predominantly muted response from Democratic governors shows the uncertainty surrounding Cuomo's fate in politics. On Wednesday, the New York governor apologized but said he didn't intend to hurt anyone or make them feel uncomfortable. He also refused to resign.
President Biden's administration, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have said they backed the ongoing independent investigation that's being overseen by the New York state attorney general. Cuomo has said he will cooperate with the investigation.
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Rep. Kathleen Rice has become the first New York Democrat in Congress to call for him to step down. "The time has come. The Governor must resign," Rice, a former district attorney, tweeted Monday night.
Rich Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo advisor, responded to requests for comment for this story by referring to Cuomo's televised briefing Wednesday.
"Did you watch the briefing he just did? He said he was fully cooperating with the AG's office," Azzopardi said in an email.
Former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, 25, accused the governor of asking questions about her personal life, such as whether she was monogamous in relationships and if she had "been with an older man."
Cuomo, 63, previously conceded that he had conversations with aides that have been "misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." He has denied ever inappropriately touching or propositioning anyone. Cuomo reiterated his apology on Wednesday at a press conference in Albany but would not agree to stepdown from his position.
Lindsey Boylan, 36, another former aide, has accused Cuomo of kissing her without consent, among other alleged issues. He has denied her claims.
Cuomo avoids public amid outcry over harassment allegations
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has avoided public appearances for days as some members of his own party call for him to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The governor hasn’t taken questions from reporters since a Feb. 19 briefing, an unusually long gap for a Democrat whose daily, televised updates on the coronavirus pandemic were must-see TV last spring. He was last before video cameras Thursday, when he introduced President Joe Biden at a virtual meeting of the National Governor’s Association, which he chairs. He also participated Tuesday in the group's conference call, which was off-limits to reporters.
A third woman, Anna Ruch, 33, told The New York Times that Cuomo made an unwanted advance toward her at a wedding, trying to kiss her. The newspaper's article includes a picture of Cuomo attempting to hold the head of an uncomfortable-looking Ruch.
Cuomo's popularity in New York has dropped since the allegations, according to a new poll. Over 60% of those surveyed say Cuomo should not serve a fourth term.
Cuomo is a powerful figure among his fellow governors of both parties. He is the chair of the National Governors Association, a bipartisan political organization that represents all of the U.S. governors.
Cuomo is also backed by the Democratic Governors Association, a nonprofit political advocacy group that backs many Democratic governors. New Mexico's Grisham, chair of the DGA, told the Washington Post that she believes the group will release a statement on the Cuomo allegations.
Both organizations did not respond to requests for comment. The DGA's GOP counterpart, the Republican Governors Association, pounced on the accusations against Cuomo.
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The New York Democrat’s reign as ‘America’s governor’ may have come to an end, but it’s far less certain that his actual governorship is end-stage. Ralph Northam, the Virginia governor who was on a political death watch following his blackface scandal, survived. So did an on-the-ropes President Bill Clinton, in whose administration Cuomo served during impeachment, giving him an up-close look at how to survive the seemingly unsurvivable.
"The credible allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Cuomo are reprehensible," RGA spokesman Will Reinert told CNBC. "This should not be a partisan issue, and Governors on both sides of the aisle should demand Andrew Cuomo be held accountable for his disturbing actions against these women." The RGA supports at least 30 Republican governors.
Representatives for Whitmer and Mills both told CNBC that the two governors want to see an independent investigation into the claims against Cuomo.
"Governor Whitmer believes the allegations made against Governor Cuomo are serious and there needs to be a transparent, thorough, and independent investigation into this matter," Chelsea Parisio, Whitmer's deputy press secretary, said in an email.
"The Governor is disturbed by the accusations and believes they deserve a thorough and independent investigation," said Lindsay Crete, Mills' press secretary.
Murphy's spokesman referred CNBC to comments the New Jersey governor made during his Monday press briefing after a reporter asked about the allegations against Cuomo.
"I don't have any insights but what I've read is deeply concerning and deeply troubling. So it appears as though they're going to have an independent investigation," Murphy said at the time. "And that, to me, seems what they should be doing."
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"I would just add anybody who has any concern, expresses a concern, deserves to be heard and it deserves to be completely and thoroughly investigated," Murphy said.
Murphy and Cuomo have worked together on efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grisham, the DGA chair, told the Washington Post that she finds the claims against Cuomo "troubling."
Meanwhile, some of Cuomo's key supporters are sticking with him as the investigation proceeds.
Shortly after CNBC reported a group of Cuomo donors were pausing and reevaluating their support for the governor, other financiers reached out to explain how they were in fact they standing with him. Cuomo is running for a fourth term next year.
Though they declined to be named in order to speak freely, donors and business allies who are continuing to align themselves with the governor have reached out to him to give their support.
One friend of Cuomo's in the New York business community told CNBC they texted Cuomo one sentence: "Stay strong."
AOC and N.Y. congressional Democrats join call for Cuomo to resign .
More than 10 members of New York’s Democratic congressional delegation, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerry Nadler, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Friday amid multiple claims of sexual harassment and assault against him. “This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, the“This week, the second sexual assault allegation and the sixth harassment allegation was leveled against Governor Cuomo,” Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Jamaal Bowman said in a joint statement.