On Tuesday morning, New York attorney general Letitia James released the results of her office’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo. For a time, it seemed that while the report wouldn’t necessarily portray Cuomo in a great light, it might not be a complete and total career-ender. Which, in retrospect, was a quaint thought! Instead, over the course of 165 pages, James’s office referred to numerous cringe-worthy, stomach-churning instances in which the governor sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, with the A.G. noting in a press conference that after interviewing 179 individuals and examining more than 74,000 documents, a “deeply disturbing, yet clear, picture” of Cuomo’s behavior had emerged.
In one instance, for example, the governor met a female state trooper at an event and then requested that she be transferred to his personal detail, despite the fact that she didn’t have the required three years of experience. After she joined his team, Cuomo allegedly asked her why she didn’t wear a dress while working—a comment a senior officer suggested she should keep to herself—and on another occasion, warned her not to get married because “your sex drive goes down.” At another point, the report says, Cuomo told the trooper she was “too old” for him and that he was looking for a girlfriend who could “handle pain.” On three occasions, each of them corroborated, the governor allegedly touched the trooper in an inappropriate manner, The Washington Post noted.
Per the Post:
The first was when she was escorting him in an elevator, with the senior investigator also present. “[T]he Governor placed his finger on the top of her neck and ran his finger down the center of her spine midway down her back,” the report alleges, “and said to Trooper #1, ‘Hey, you.’”
At another point, Cuomo allegedly asked the trooper if he could kiss her, catching her off-guard. She acquiesced. After discussing the incident with a colleague, the colleague recommended that she next time say she was sick. When Cuomo again asked, the trooper told investigators, she did exactly that—prompting Cuomo to look at her “almost in disgust.”
In September 2019, Cuomo allegedly touched the trooper in a way that made her feel “completely violated,” according to testimony she gave investigators. “[H]e ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach in the direction opposite the direction that he was walking,” the report alleges. “The center of the Governor’s hand was on Trooper #1′s belly button, and he pushed his hand back to her right hip where she kept her gun.”
This was witnessed by several other officials, including another senior investigator who asked if she wanted to report the incident. She declined.
Elsewhere in the report, the A.G.’s office alleges other gross conduct, including a situation in which the governor, who has denied the allegations against him, met a woman at an event and brushed his hand near her breasts:
In May 2017, Virginia Limmiatis attended a conservation event in upstate New York on behalf of her employer (“Energy Company”) at which the Governor spoke. After the event, Ms. Limmiatis stood in a rope line to meet with the Governor, along with other attendees. She wore a shirt that had the name of the Energy Company written across the chest. When the Governor reached Ms. Limmiatis, he ran two fingers across her chest, pressing down on each of the letters as he did so and reading out the name of the Energy Company as he went. The Governor then leaned in, with his face close to Ms. Limmiatis’s cheek, and said, “I’m going to say I see a spider on your shoulder,” before brushing his hand in the area between her shoulder and breasts (and below her collarbone). Ms. Limmiatis was shocked, and immediately informed a number of other attendees of what had happened.
And that Cuomo touched the breasts and butt of an executive assistant, in addition to regularly asking her if she’d ever cheated on her husband, and later saying he’d like to sleep with her:
…the Governor’s behavior toward Executive Assistant #1 escalated to more intimate physical contact, including regular hugs and kisses on the cheek (and at least one kiss on the lips), culminating in incidents where the Governor grabbed Executive Assistant #1’s butt while they took a selfie in the Executive Mansion, and where the Governor, during a hug, reached under Executive Assistant #1’s blouse and grabbed her breast.
The Governor also regularly engaged in banter and friendly conversation with Executive Assistant #1 regarding her marital status, personal life, and relationships. On one occasion, while Executive Assistant #1 was assisting him in his office in the Executive Mansion, the Governor asked Executive Assistant #1 whether she had ever had a boyfriend while married. Executive Assistant #1 replied that she had not. The Governor then asked whether Executive Assistant #1 had kissed or “fooled around” with anyone other than her husband. Executive Assistant #1 continued to answer in the negative until the Governor moved on to another topic. In or around November 2020, while the two were in his office at the Capitol, the Governor again asked Executive Assistant #1, “[H]ave you ever had sex with anyone other than your husband?” Executive Assistant #1 responded she had not.… The Governor’s comments became increasingly suggestive, including one in or around late 2019 or early 2020, when the Governor said to Executive Assistant #1 something to the effect of, “If you were single, the things I would do to you.”
There are other horrifying details, but you get the gist. Based on these alone, you might think that the governor would have held a press conference to announce his resignation effective immediately, or that he might have a better response to the allegations than, effectively, “I touch everyone inappropriately.” But, surprise! Here are a series of words Cuomo actually said on Tuesday:
Cab drivers. Bellhops. The guy working the TKTS ticket booth. The cast of Mamma Mia!. A waiter at the Olive Garden in Times Square. The CEO of the New York Stock Exchange. A Mister Softee truck driver. The goats in Riverside Park. Mr. Met.
Does this make the allegations sound less bad? Incredibly, in the mind of Cuomo and the people advising him, the answer is yes! And they didn’t stop there! Later, the governor’s office released a written response, roughly 70% of which was (1) photos of him touching people, and (2) photos of other politicians who are not Cuomo touching people.
It includes photos of Cuomo hugging his mother and father. Other bizarre choices by the staffer who was presumably assigned the job of searching Google Images using the phrase “politicians + hugging” include Barack Obama comforting a Hurricane Sandy victim and Michelle Obama hugging Hillary Clinton. (It’s also possible that Cuomo, completely out of his mind, selected and put together the series of photos himself.)
Of course, normally hugging people in public is not what Cuomo has been accused of, but, as laid out by James’s office, grabbing women’s breasts and implying he wants to have sex with them. So, there’s that.
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