The New York Attorney General on Monday appointed a former federal prosecutor and a leading lawyer as head of the investigation into allegations that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women.
On Monday, a spokesman for New York Assembly minority leader William Barclay told the media that a Republican-sponsored resolution against Cuomo’s prosecution would be released by the end of the day.
Republicans have a relatively small minority of seats in the Assembly and cannot force the Democrats to accuse Cuomo, who is a Democrat.
However, Democrats have increasingly been asked to resign Cuomo. The governor said he would not leave office voluntarily.
In another development Monday, Cuomo said his lawyer, Kumiki Gibson, is leaving the post to take a position in the private sector. Beth Garvey, who serves as Cuomo’s special adviser and senior adviser, will take Gibson’s work on an acting basis.
Garvey was involved in a failed attempt to have a former federal judge instead of Attorney General Letitia James investigate allegations that Cuomo was harassing former assistants and behaving inappropriately with other women.
After a setback on the idea, Cuomo’s office suggested that James share oversight of the investigation with the state’s Supreme Court justice. The attorney general refused the arrangement, and the governor’s office then said she would ask her to oversee the investigation exclusively.
James said Monday that the investigation will be led by Joon Kim, who served as acting U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District from March 2017 through January, and Anne Clark, who has sued numerous plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits. represented.
Kim is a partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, while Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark.
“The people of New York deserve a comprehensive and independent investigation into these allegations, and I am committed to reviewing them,” Clark said in a statement released by James’s office.
Kim said in a statement: “These are serious allegations that require careful and impartial investigation. We will act judiciously and follow the facts wherever they lead.”
James also appointed three other attorneys, Jennifer Kennedy Park, Abena Mainoo and Yannick Grant, to help conduct the investigation.
“We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation into the facts,” James said.
Kim and Clark “are independent legal experts who have decades of experience in investigations and struggles to uphold the rule of law,” James said.
“There is no doubt that both have the necessary knowledge and background to lead this investigation and give New Yorkers the answers they deserve.”
Debra Katz, a lawyer for one of Cuomo’s defendants, Charlotte Bennett, said the choice of Kim and Clark “shows that Attorney General Letitia James takes this case very seriously.”
“We are encouraged by the experience and background of the attorneys who are going to investigate Charlotte’s claims and expect the investigation to extend to the claims of the other women we know are out there,” Katz said.
“It is important that this investigation is not just about what Governor Cuomo said and did. It should also focus on the culture of secrecy, abuse and fear he has nurtured among his staff – often in violation of the laws he opposes. “We look forward to working with the investigators.” We look forward to working with the investigators. “
The investigation was launched on February 24 when Lindsey Boylan, a former government official for economic development, wrote in a media post that Cuomo had abused his power as governor to sexually harass me, just like he did with so many other women. did. . “
Boylan, who is running for president of Manhattan City Council, wrote that Cuomo had kissed her once without her permission, and jokingly suggested that they play strip comics during an official flight. The governor’s office denied Boylan’s account.
Days later, another former Cuomo assistant, Bennett, told The New York Times that he asked her questions about her sex life and whether she had ‘ever been with an older man’. Bennett, who played soccer against one of Cuomo’s daughters in high school, is 25 years old, while the governor is 63.
Shortly after that article the Times published claims of former Obama White House worker Anna Ruch, who said that Cuomo, during a wedding reception, put his hand on her bare lower back, told her that she looked ‘aggressive’, while baking her face and then asking if he could kiss her.
Cuomo said he “never made progress” toward Bennett.
However, he also apologized last week, saying: “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable … It was unintentional.”
Karen Hinton, who served as Cuomo’s press assistant when he was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told The Washington Post in recent days that Cuomo invited her to his hotel room in Los Angeles in 2000 and hugged her while she try to leave the room and then pull her back to him as she moves again to leave.
Ana Liss, who worked as Cuomo’s assistant when he was governor, told The Wall Street Journal that he hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist.
Cuomo’s office vehemently denied Hinton’s account, saying it “did not happen.” His office, referring to Liss’ claim, said Cuomo has a well-known habit of kissing men and women and posing for photos.
“This is what people do in politics,” said Cuomo’s senior adviser, Rich Azzopardi.