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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was grilled for 11 hours in sexual harassment probe

Governor Andrew Cuomo faced 11 hours of questioning by the lead investigators in the state attorney general's probe into the sexual harassment allegations against him. 

On July 17, Cuomo submitted to questioning under oath by investigators hired by state attorney general Letitia James to lead the probe: Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clarke. 

Few details had emerged from the interview until Monday when it was revealed that the governor had reportedly been combative during the lengthy interview; repeatedly hitting back at Kim and questioning his impartiality.

Cuomo believes Kim is biased after his past investigations into Cuomo and his allies, according to sources who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity.

The state hired two outside lawyers, Joon H. Kim, left, and Anne L. Clark, right, to lead the investigation into Cuomo. Kim and Clark interviewed Cuomo for roughly 11 hours on July 17  during which he cast doubt on Kim's impartiality after previous investigations into Cuomo and his allies

In 2014 Kim, as a prosecutor in the US attorney's office in Manhattan, he had questioned Cuomo over his sudden decision in 2014 to shut down the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel that had begun looking into the governor's allies.

When he was US Attorney in 2018, he was also involved in the prosecution of former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco, who was convicted of corruption in 2018.

The interview with Cuomo likely means that Kim and Clark's investigation is coming to a close, with their findings expected to be released by the end of summer. 

Kim, a former US attorney, and Clark, an employment lawyer, had spent roughly four months gathering testimony from women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. The allegations have included unwanted touching, hugs and kisses, as well as inappropriate comments.

Publicly the governor and his allies have tried to cast doubt on the investigation.  

On July 19, two days after the interview, Cuomo suggested that the probe was politically motivated.        

Speaking to reporters, Cuomo said that people will be 'shocked' at how it was being handled. 

'I'm very eager to get the facts to the people of this state and I think that when they hear the actual facts of what happened and how this situation has been handled I think they will be shocked,' Cuomo said Monday. 'Shocked because at the end of the day, the truth wins and facts win.'  

Joe Percoco, former top aide to Cuomo, leaves federal court after being sentenced to six years in prison for corruption charges September 20, 2018. As US Attorney, Kim had been a part of the investigation into him

He declined to say what was discussed during his questioning, and instead, raised  doubts about those leading the investigation.  

'I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,' he said. 'That's what I've said, and as politics, is this happening in a political system? Yes, that is undeniable.'

When asked why Cuomo appeared to be questioning the reliability of the investigators hired in the probe, he replied, 'Look at who the independent investigators are. Google the independent reviewers and tell me what you see.'

An on the Thursday before the interview Cuomo senior advisor Richard Azzopardi said: 'We have said repeatedly that the governor doesn't want to comment on this review until he has cooperated, but the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general's review.' 

His statement was the second time he had claimed that James, also a Democrat, and her probe were politically motivated.

In April, Azzopardi blasted James for confirming that her office was also investigating whether Cuomo broke the law by having members of his staff help write and promote his recent memoir 'American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic'.

'Both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest‎,' Azzopardi said at the time.

Documents filed Friday with the state Board of Elections reveal the New York governor paid lawyer Rita Glavin $111,774 on May 3 for 'professional services' and another $173,098 on June 2

The New York Post reported that Cuomo prepped with his own lawyers for the questioning.

Cuomo, who has publicly denied any wrongdoing, is being represented by Rita Glavin, a former US Department of Justice official.

Cuomo had hired Glavin to represent him as claims of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behavior started to mount against him earlier this year.

On the day of Cuomo's meeting with Kim and Clark, it was revealed that he used $285,000 of campaign funds to pay Glavin after publicly saying he would not foot his legal bills with campaign money.

During the early days of the pandemic, Cuomo was lauded for his handling of the crisis in the virus epicenter of the world, with his daily press briefings even earning him an Emmy.

But the governor's reputation has unraveled in recent months as nine women have now come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied the allegations saying he 'never touched anyone inappropriately' and 'never made any inappropriate advances' but has apologized for making anyone feel 'uncomfortable.'

Meanwhile, he has also been rocked by the COVID-19 nursing home deaths scandal and pointed questions have arisen over the writing of his controversial memoir and the alleged special treatment afforded to his friends and family in the early days of the pandemic.

Investigators were always expected to speak with Cuomo, who said at the start of the probe in March that he would 'fully cooperate.' Cuomo is also facing an impeachment inquiry in the state assembly.

Kim and Clark have gathered testimony from several of the women who have accused him as part of the investigation.

Cuomo initially apologized and said he 'learned an important lesson' about his behavior around women, though he's since denied he did anything wrong and questioned the motivations of accusers.

He has also rebuffed calls to step aside over the allegations.

Lindsay Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse the governor in social media posts back in December.

She worked for Cuomo's team from March 2015 to October 2018. 

Boylan claims the governor kissed her on the lips and suggested they play a game of strip poker.   

The governor has denied these allegations.    

After she came forward with the accusations, the governor's office released her personnel records which included disciplinary recommendations against her and allegations of bullying.

Boylan has said her personnel material was leaked in an effort to smear her. 

Since she came forward, at least eight other women have accused the governor of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior, including former aide Alyssa McGrath, told The New York Times Cuomo had flirted with her, looked down her shirt and commented on her appearance by calling her 'beautiful' in Italian.

Some of Cuomo's top allies in the state legislature have called on the public to await the results of James' investigation and not to undermine her integrity.

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, said he trusts the independent investigators selected by James, and said that 'their credibility and professionalism can't be questioned.'

The women who've accused Gov Andrew Cuomo of harassment

Lindsay Boylan, 36 

Former aide Lindsay Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in a Medium post on February 24. She claimed that the governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017. 

Charlotte Bennett, 25

Charlotte Bennett, 25, came forward a few days after Boylan and claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed her last June while she was working as a health policy adviser in his administration at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Bennett accused Cuomo of 'grooming' her and asking inappropriate questions about her sex life. 

She also claimed that he told her he was open to dating women in their 20s. 

BENNETT said the governor asked her about her love life - including whether she ever had sex with older men - and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn't matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22. 

During a meeting alone in his office, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said. 

She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo's chief of staff and was transferred to another job. 

She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn´t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on. 

Anna Ruch, 33

Anna Ruch was the third woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and the only one thus far who did not work with him in a professional capacity. She claimed that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan. 

Ana Liss, 35

Ana Liss, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including 'blondie,' 'sweetheart' and 'honey.' 

At a reception, the governor hugged her then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said. 

She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was 'not claiming sexual harassment per se,' but felt the administration 'wasn't a safe space for young women to work.' 

Liss, who previously served as Cuomo's policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life. 

Karen Hinton, 62  

The oldest allegations against Cuomo came from Karen Hinton, who served as a press aide for him when he led the US Department of Housing and Urban Development two decades ago and she was a consultant for the agency. Hinton told the Washington Post about a 2000 incident when she said Cuomo summoned her to his 'dimly lit' hotel room and embraced her after a work event. She said she tried to pull away from Cuomo when he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room. 

Unnamed sixth accuser

The most damning allegations leveled against Cuomo to date came from a sixth accuser, whose name has not been released. 

The accuser, who is a member of Cuomo's staff, alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor's mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany. 

It first reported on her accusation last month; she then gave more detail in her first interview on the matter, published Wednesday. 

The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor´s circle, the Times Union reported.

The woman, an executive assistant, told the Times Union the governor gave her kisses on the cheek and inappropriately tight hugs for years and made remarks including, 'If you were single, the things that I would do to you' and 'I'm single and ready to mingle.'

Then, one day in November, she was summoned to his Executive Mansion office to help him with a cellphone problem, she said. 

He got up from his desk, started groping her and told her 'I don't care' after she tried to deflect him by saying he was going to get them into trouble, and then he slammed the door, she said.

Then he reached under her blouse and clutched one of her breasts over her bra, she told the newspaper.

The woman told a colleague this winter about the alleged encounter, and the co-worker told a supervisor in early March, according to the newspaper.

Cuomo called the report 'gut-wrenching' in a March statement and said: 'I have never done anything like this.' 

Another female aide, who has remained anonymous, claimed he called her to his Executive Mansion last year, reached under her blouse and fondled her

Jessica Bakeman

Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occasions since the start of her journalism career in 2012.

Bakeman added her voice as the seventh accuser as she detailed inappropriate touching by the governor as he continued to deny all of the claims.

'He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go,' Bakeman wrote of an interaction with Cuomo as she said goodnight at a holiday party in 2014 when she was only 25 years old.

'He put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture.'

At the time Bakeman had been working for what is now Politico New York and claimed that red flags went up as her 'job was to analyze and scrutinize him'.

'I didn't want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face,' she wrote.

Jessica Bakeman, a reporter who once covered the Cuomo administration, was the seventh woman to come forward with claims of harassment

'But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country.'

In an earlier 2012 incident while she was working for USA Today, Bakeman also claims that Cuomo kept her pinned to his side as he told a story to her male colleagues.

'He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story,' she said. 'I stood there, my cheeks hot, giggling nervously as my male colleagues did the same. We all knew it was wrong, but we did nothing.'

The reporter, who now works in Florida, claimed that Cuomo 'never let me forget I was a woman' as she also alleged that he made frequent attempts to humiliate her, including calling out her purple phone instead of answering her question during a press gaggle.

Alyssa McGrath, 33

McGrath, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo's office, told The New York Times that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.

McGrath didn't say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment. 

She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party.

Alyssa McGrath (pictured) is one of two aides who have come forward to accuse the governor of harassment

Sherry Vill, 55 

Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct during a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred on Monday. 

She alleges Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her 'aggressively and in a sexual manner' on both cheeks in May 2017 while he was touring her home in Greece, near Rochester, as he inspected local flood damage.

Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek and her attorney held up multiple photos showing the Governor inside her home. 

The same photos appear on Cuomo's Flickr account, as well as multiple others that show him kissing and greeting residents as he toured the town.

None of the women in the other photos have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing.   

Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct on Monday.  Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek

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