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White House says it will keep working with Andrew Cuomo despite sexual harassment allegations

The White House on Thursday said it would keep working with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he faces allegations he sexually harassed a former aide.

Cuomo is head of the National Governors' Association and President Joe Biden addressed their winter meeting on Thursday afternoon. The event took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The New York Governor introduced the president and the two men had a friendly exchange about what food would be served when in-person meetings can take place again. 

'We do miss our White House visit Mr. President,' Cuomo said in his introduction. 'And we look forward to a possible invitation next year, fingers crossed. And maybe even an extra special meal to make up for the absence of. Of course, I would recommend the Italian food, but the way the NGA operates I'd have to put that up for a vote.'

Biden responded he'd love to see the nation's 50 governors in-person at the White House next year and added that he'll 'have whatever food you want. We can go around- each one of you can just order individually.'

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced President Biden at the annual National Governors Association meeting and the two men had a friendly exchange about what food would be served when in-person meetings can take place again

Missing from their talk was any mention of the controversies Cuomo is facing in his home state, including calls for an investigation after Lindsey Boylan - who worked as a special advisor to Cuomo in 2018 - charged in an essay published to Medium Wednesday that Cuomo asked her to play strip poker and kissed on the lips without her permission. 

Cuomo has denied the allegations. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that all women should be heard and treated with dignity when these allegations are made. But she didn't denounce Cuomo, who supported Biden during the presidential campaign.

'The president has been consistent in his position: when a person comes forward; they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Their voice should be heard not silenced. And any allegation should be reviewed,' Psaki said when asked about the matter at her daily press briefing.

The White House said it would keep working with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he faces allegations he sexually harassed a former aide - Cuomo is seen above in the Oval Office during a Feb. 12 meeting with Biden on COVID relief

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said administration would work with Cuomo as part of their COVID relief efforts

But, she added, the administration would continue to work with Cuomo as part of their efforts on COVID relief. 

'Governor Cuomo is also the governor of one of the largest states in the country that has been one of the hardest hit with millions of people still suffering from an ongoing pandemic and an economic crisis,' she said. 'And our focus is to continue working with governors from across the country, from a range of states on how we're helping people in their states. He also is still head of the National Governors Association and hence he's at the event today.' 

Cuomo is facing fallout from the allegation. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an independent investigation into claims.

In Wednesday's Medium post Boylan claimed she was taking a plane ride with Cuomo in 2017 when he asked her to play strip poker. 

'I should have been shocked by the Governor's crude comment, but I wasn't.'  

She further alleged that during a one-on-one briefing with the Governor to update him on economic and infrastructure projects he kissed her without permission. 

'We were in his New York City office on Third Avenue. As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.

'I had complained to friends that the Governor would go out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,' she wrote. 

In an essay published to Medium Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan -who worked as a special advisor to Cuomo in 2018- charged that the Governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed on the lips without her permission.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pictured on Wednesday. The Governor is currently mired in a number of scandals 

Boylan had already alleged in tweets in December last year that Cuomo 'abused his power' and sexually harassed her for years. 

Cuomo's press secretary Caitlin Girouard issued a statement Wednesday saying Boylan's latest allegations are untrue. 

'As we said before, Ms. Boylan's claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,' she stated. 

Cuomo, who was praised early for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his state, is now facing a number of scandals, including charges he covered-up the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York nursing homes.

More than 15,000 people have died in New York state's nursing homes and long term care facilities from COVID-19, but as recently as last month, the state reported only 8,500 deaths.  

The numbers, while accounted for in the full state death totals to the state, were not ascribed to nursing homes for residents who died in hospitals rather than within the facilities.   

The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office have now also begun investigations into the matter.  

The governor said it was not responsible for bringing coronavirus – and more deaths – into long-term care facilities. 

Biden has long held up Cuomo as an example for officials to follow on the pandemic.

Last spring, then-presidential candidate Biden classified Cuomo's response to the raging as the 'gold standard'.

'Your governor of New York has done one hell of a job. I think he's sort of the gold standard,' he said at the time.

'At the time, which was, I believe, April of last year, the president spoke out and said, positive things about a range of governors - Democrats and Republicans - who are stepping in when there was a vacuum of leadership at the federal level, when they were getting no information, when they were getting no help, and no guidance from the former Trump administration,' she noted. 

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