New York State Attorney General Letitia James shot down the idea that her report, which substantiated claims of at least 11 women who say former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed them, was an orchestrated “coup” against Cuomo.
“The report speaks for itself and these are nothing more than attempts to undermine the independence and the legitimacy of the report,” Attorney General James said. “It was done by two professionals who are widely respected. Unfortunately, the report indicates that the environment in the office of the former governor was toxic and hostile. I believe women and I think the women spoke the truth.”
In an op-ed, attorney and lifelong Mario and Andrew Cuomo supporter David Pikus wrote that the investigation into Cuomo was “politically orchestrated” by “so-called socialists.” Pikus blamed “cancel culture” and said the rights of Cuomo’s supporters were trampled by this “coup.”
In question in the op-ed: a report issued by the attorney general’s office after a five-month investigation, which was authorized by Cuomo himself in March.
Cuomo at the time repeatedly urged New Yorkers to have faith in the investigation and the process. James brought up this point to reporters on Thursday.
“It was a referral made to my office by the governor of the state of New York, former Governor Cuomo,” James said. “I put my head down and I did my work. For me do anything otherwise would undermine the trust of my office and the independence of my office. I was elected to serve the residents of the great state of New York and that is exactly what I did.”
When the damning report was finally released in August, almost all of Cuomo’s allies, including Legislative leaders, the head of the State Democratic Party, state and federal lawmakers and even President Joe Biden, called on Cuomo to resign. Cuomo then did resign a week after the report was released, while still denying the sexual harassment allegations.
However, this narrative that Cuomo was “railroaded” has been shared by former advisors to the governor, and the op-ed was even emailed out by the former governor’s campaign account.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee has been signaling it is close to wrapping up its investigation looking into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, possible cover-up of COVID related nursing home deaths, Cuomo using state resources to help write his pandemic book and more.
This week as well, Governor Kathy Hochul’s office blocked the use of public money to pay the attorneys of former Cuomo administration officials.
James says she stands by Hochul’s decision.
There are also numerous ongoing investigations still looking into Cuomo and his administration.
Multiple district attorneys around the state are investigating sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo that occurred in their areas. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple's office is considering possible charges against Cuomo for allegedly groping his assistant at the governor’s mansion.
James has turned over witness transcripts from the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo to the Assembly impeachment team and the district attorneys. Cuomo’s allies have repeatedly called for her to make these transcripts public, but James said again that the DAs have asked her not to at this time.
“I am cooperating with the District attorneys’ offices,” James said. “We’ve submitted all the transcripts to the district attorneys’ offices and they've asked me not to release them. Until such time as they allow me to release them to the general public, we will cooperate with them.”
Additionally, there is a federal inquiry looking into the Cuomo administration’s handling of COVID in nursing homes and if Cuomo intentionally withheld the number of COVID resident deaths.
James still has ongoing investigations looking into whether Cuomo used state resources and employees to help write his book about leadership during the pandemic and how nursing homes operated during the pandemic.
James said she had no update on either investigation and does not know how soon they will wrap up.
When it comes to possibly running for governor or running for a second term, James rules nothing out.
“My focus is on my work in the Office of the New York State Attorney General,” James said. “I enjoy serving in the Office of the New York State Attorney General and it's entirely up to the people of the state of New York.”