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A New York AG Investigation Says That Gov. Andrew Cuomo Sexually Harassed Women


New York state's attorney general has issued a report on Governor Andrew Cuomo. It's the result of a months-long investigation into his workplace behavior. Attorney General Letitia James alleges that the three-term governor sexually harassed multiple women and also violated federal and state laws. NPR's Quil Lawrence is following this developing story. Quil, good morning to you.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So what are you hearing more specifically?

LAWRENCE: Well, this press conference just started at 11 o'clock - just after 11 o'clock Eastern. And people have been waiting for months to hear this. Governor Cuomo had asked his attorney general to investigate this, in part to stop the speculation about it. He has denied repeatedly any wrongdoing and apologized if he made anyone uncomfortable.

But the conclusive nature of this report, which has just been announced, is quite impressive. They talked with a hundred - more than 170 people who corroborated these harassment - verbal harassment, groping, a toxic workplace culture in the governor's office. And this is expected to increase calls for the governor's impeachment.

INSKEEP: Some people will recall the way this story unfolded last fall. As it has for a number of powerful people, there was one accusation, and then there were several and there were many. And I recall that there was a range of alleged behaviors, a range of severity as well. How many cases does Attorney General James say that those 170 people are able to corroborate - how many specific offenses?

LAWRENCE: She was describing several of them, including one of the state troopers who was assigned to guard the governor, other former and current government employees and, in at least one case, a planned retaliation against one of the women who had publicly complained. There was a letter circulating that the governor was going to put out essentially smearing his accuser. They did not put out this letter, the investigation found, because it was deemed to be a bad strategy for him to be attacking one of his accusers.

INSKEEP: Is the attorney general planning to pursue criminal charges if she says that he has violated state laws?

LAWRENCE: That would be the obvious next step. I mean, two outside lawyers were the ones who did this investigation. She has just announced it. And we're expecting to hear renewed calls for the government - for the governor's impeachment.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk this through also because Cuomo himself, as you've said, called for this investigation, said he supported this investigation. And it was perceived by his critics as a time - as a - at the time as a way to stave off impeachment and a way to stave off demands that he resign immediately. He said, I'm not resigning; I'm not going anywhere. That's undemocratic. Let's wait for the investigation. Now the investigation is before us. What does that mean for the move to impeach him, which began months ago, or for the demands that he resign?

LAWRENCE: Right. I mean, it seemed like he was trying to just quiet down this scandal, that he was trying to portray what had happened as maybe an older man not understanding that he was being somewhat inappropriate in his conduct with some of his younger staff. But the descriptions of these conversations, these sexually explicit comments and groping which he is alleged to have carried out that was substantiated in this investigation go far beyond that sort of, I guess, antiquated behavior that he tried to paint.

INSKEEP: And the allegations of retaliation take it to another level as well. Quil, thanks so much.

LAWRENCE: Sure thing, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Quil Lawrence.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Quil Lawrence is a New York-based correspondent for NPR News, covering veterans' issues nationwide. He won a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of American veterans and a Gracie Award for coverage of female combat veterans. In 2019 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America honored Quil with its IAVA Salutes Award for Leadership in Journalism.