Cuomo Accuses AG's Investigators of Bias
Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public appearance since being questioned by the state Attorney General’s office on allegations of sexual harassment, cast doubt on the motives of the investigators, saying it’s likely that “politics” are involved.
Cuomo in March said he trusted AG Tish James to conduct a fair investigation of the sexual harassment allegations against him from multiple women.
But as the probe continues, the governor and his top aides have said several times that James might be politically motivated because she is considering a run for governor. James has not announced any plans to seek higher office.
Cuomo, who was interviewed by the AG’s office for several hours on July 17th, is now questioning the integrity of the investigators that James authorized to conduct the probe.
“I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” said Cuomo. “Is this all happening in a political system? Yes, that is undeniable.”
When asked by reporters why he thinks the investigators are biased, the governor said to “google” them.
“Then tell me what you see,” the governor said.
One of the lead investigators, Joon Kim, a former acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was a top deputy to former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara oversaw cases that resulted in Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, and other former associates of the governor being sent to federal prison.
Bharara, on his podcast “Stay Tuned with Preet," predicted on July 22nd that Kim’s report will be impartial and unbiased.
“The report will be fact based, professional, it will be without innuendo,” said Bharara, saying he expected the final report to dismiss any allegations reported in the media if there is no evidence to support them and corroborating any charges that are found to be credible.
Bharara accused Cuomo of using tactics similar to those of former President Donald Trump, who tried to undermine investigations against him by calling them , without evidence, a “witch hunt.”
The former U.S. Attorney also addressed a story in the New York Post’s Page Six, which said the governor and his aides were spreading rumors that Bharara wanted to run for governor, and would try to persuade Kim to come up with a negative report against the governor to help his former boss’s political aspirations. Bharara called that theory “demented."
“I’m not planning to run for governor next year,” Bharara said. “And everyone who knows me, knows that.”
Even though the governor impugned the motives of the AG’s investigators, Cuomo also says that he expects the “truth” will come out in the investigation.
“When they get the facts, I am very confident that they will be shocked at what they have heard about this, versus what they know about it,” Cuomo said. “I’m confident that when they get the facts they are going to understand exactly what happened.”
A spokesperson for the Attorney General declined to comment.
The team of lawyers will be empowered to depose witnesses, subpoena the administration for testimony and documents, and retrieve other data relevant to the investigation.
Remarks by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie drew fire from the attorney representing one of the women who say Cuomo harassed them.