New York Attorney General Letitia James avoided bumping into NY Governor Kathy Hochul at a power breakfast – after it was leaked that she’s planning her own gubernatorial run, amid claims she charged Andrew Cuomo with groping to avoid him mounting a comeback challenge.
James, who delivered the report that led to the resignation of Hochul’s predecessor in Albany, Andrew Cuomo, is set to announce a decision on running for the November 2022 election ‘in the coming days,’ a senior campaign advisor told DailyMail.com Thursday.
Meanwhile, Hochul showed zero intent to back away from the office, saying in her remarks that ‘When I’m done with my terms, no one will ever question the ability of a woman to hold the highest office in the state.’
James arrived after Hochul had left the event, according to reporters. It is unclear if she had deliberately planned the woman she plans to challenge, and who ascended to the most powerful job in NY state politics thanks to James’ probe into Cuomo he has dismissed as a self-interested witch-hunt.
The two powerful New York politicians were joined by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Democratic candidate for mayor and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at district leader Steve Cohn’s annual cheesecake breakfast.
The breakfast, which dates back to 1993, is considered a big event for New York-area politicians. James has been seen at it in the past, while the likes of Cuomo, former president Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Congressional Representatives Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler have also been seen at it in the past.
Both New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James appeared at a Brooklyn political event Friday, but James did not arrive until Hochul had left
Former Governor Andrew Cuomo, himself a prior attendee of district leader Steve Cohn’s cheesecake breakfast, was a topic of discussion after being charged with a sex crime Thursday
Cuomo’s name was up for discussion at the event after he was charged with forcible touching, two months after being pushed out of office by James, the woman now likely campaigning for his job.
His campaign spokesman Rich Azzopardi released a statement blasting the criminal allegations as politically-motivated Thursday night, saying James’ decision ‘reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse.’
His statement added: ‘The fact that the AG – as predicted – is about to announce a run for governor is lost on no-one. The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will soon come out.’
Both Hochul and James were asked about the sex crime charge against the deposed governor.
‘I’m not going to get involved,’ said Hochul, who added that she continues to stand by and believe women. She also promised that no harassment will take place in her administration, and that her staff have taken steps to ensure that.
James refused to comment any further on the charge, referring reporters to her statement from Thursday night.
‘From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor,’ said James in that statement. ‘The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.’
Hochul remained in Brooklyn to make an announcement regarding a bill that would reduce noise pollution.
James refused to comment further on the charge against Cuomo
Hochul said she was staying out of it but that she believed the women that came forward about her predecessor and running mate
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is also exploring a run for governor
The two are scheduled to be at the same event again on Sunday at a Get Out the Vote rally on Long Island.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, accused those involved with the charge of timing it around James’ campaign launch in a statement Thursday.
”Accidentally’ filing a criminal charge without notification and consent of the prosecuting body doesn’t pass the laugh test and this process reeks of Albany politics and perhaps worse,’ Azzopardi said. ‘The fact that the AG — as predicted — is about to announce a run for governor is lost on no one. The truth about what happened with this cowboy sheriff will come out.’
In addition to James, fellow Brooklynite and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is also exploring a run. A spokesperson for Williams told DailyMail.com Thursday that they plan to make an announcement ‘very soon.’
Williams did not attend the event as he was en route to Buffalo to campaign for Democratic Socialist mayoral candidate India Walton.
The charges were filed on Thursday in Albany City Court. They relate to the allegation of Brittany Commisso, a former aide who claimed Cuomo groped her breast in the office of the Executive Mansion in Albany in December 2020, when he was at the height of his pandemic popularity.
Cuomo has always denied it.
Commisso’s claim was the most serious of all of the allegations listed in James’ report, which Cuomo has always maintained was a hit-job by James to get him out of her way. She is running for governor in November 2022.
‘From the moment my office received the referral to investigate allegations that former Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, we proceeded without fear or favor,’ James’ office said in a statement.
‘The criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.’
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Cuomo is pictured with Brittany Commisso, the former aide who claims he groped her breast in the Executive Mansion in November 2020. The picture was taken in 2019 and she says he’d touched her behind shortly before it was taken
Commisso claimed that she felt violated and that Cuomo wouldn’t ‘touch his mother’ the way he did her. He has always denied her claims
The complaint, which was signed by an investigator from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, alleges that the former governor ‘intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part’
If convicted, Cuomo – who has not yet commented – could face up to one year in prison.
The complaint, which was signed by an investigator from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, alleges that the former governor ‘intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim and onto her intimate body part.’
Cuomo is alleged to have touched Commisso’s left breast ‘for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires, all contrary to the provisions of the statute.’
The incident is alleged to have taken place on the second floor of the governor’s Executive Mansion in Albany on December 7, 2020, sometime between 3:51pm and 4:07pm.
The complaint was signed by an investigator on Monday.
Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin has said that Commisso’s ‘story changed over time.’
The complaint filed by the sheriff’s department investigator said evidence in the case included police BlackBerry messages, cell phone records, building security records and a text message from Cuomo’s mobile phone.
District attorneys in Oswego, Manhattan, suburban Westchester and Nassau counties also had said they asked for investigative materials from the attorney general’s inquiry to see if any of the allegations could result in criminal charges.
The announcement of the charge was chaotic on Thursday; the criminal summons was filed hastily, before sheriff’s deputies had received the permission of Commisso.
It was then leaked to a local reporter in Albany, who tweeted about it and published a brief report on New York Focus.
Spokespeople for the Albany County Sheriff’s Department then refused to confirm or deny whether or not their office had filed charges.
Eventually Lucien Chalfen, a spokesman for the court system, confirmed it to The Washington Post.
‘A Misdemeanor Complaint against former Governor Andrew Cuomo has been filed in Albany City Court.
‘As this is a sex crime, a redacted complaint will be available shortly,’ he said.
The Times Union – another local Albany paper – reports that the charges had been filed too early in a clerical error.
Albany’s top prosecutor released a statement on Thursday indicating that he was ‘surprised’ by the court filing.
‘Like the rest of the public, we were surprised to learn today that a criminal complaint was filed in Albany City Court by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office against Andrew Cuomo,’ read a statement from the office of Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares.
‘The Office of Court Administration has since made that filing public.
‘Our office will not be coming further on this case.’
Commisso was one of multiple women who gave evidence against Cuomo as part of the AG’s investigation.
She also spoke on TV about the alleged incident in November 2020.
‘I said, “Governor, you’re going to get us in trouble.” Then I thought to myself, that probably wasn’t the best thing to say.
‘That’s when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra.
‘I remember seeing his hand, which is a large hand, and thinking “oh my God, this is happening.”
‘He didn’t say anything,’ she said.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is to announce that she is running for governor, according to three people directly familiar with her plans
Cuomo has been laying low since his resignation, occasionally sharing photos on Instagram of himself fishing with his dog, Captain
Andrew Cuomo told the doctor who carried out his COVID-19 test last spring that she ‘made the gown look good’. AG James said that amounted to sexual harassment, and she included it in the report
PANDEMIC HERO TO ZERO – TIMELINE OF CUOMO’S RISE AND FALL
2006: Cuomo is elected AG of New York
2010: Cuomo is elected Governor of New York
2014: Re-elected, with Kathy Hochul as Lt. Gov
2018: Re-elected, defeating actress Cynthia Nixon
March 2020: Cuomo becomes a pandemic hero with his daily press briefings on how New York, under his guidance, was responding to the crisis.
He routinely sparred with then President Donald Trump and he basked in people calling him the people’s real president in the time of crisis
March 25: At the height of New York’s COVID crisis, Cuomo signs a directive telling nursing homes they have to accept COVID-19 patients
May 10: Cuomo rescinds the nursing home directive amid intense criticism of it as COVID deaths climb
October 2020: Cuomo releases his book, Lessons in Leadership, about the pandemic
November 2020: Cuomo is awarded an Emmy for his daily COVID briefings
December 2020: Lindsey Boylan tweets that Cuomo abused her when she worked for him
February 2021: The AP releases a damning report into how Cuomo’s administration counted nursing home deaths as hospital deaths which made the numbers smaller
March 2021: Letitia James launches sexual harassment investigation into Cuomo
Assembly Judiciary Committee opens impeachment investigation
August 3: AG releases her report finding Cuomo did sexually harass 11 women
Cuomo issues statement insisting he is innocent but refuses to stand down
August 10: Cuomo resigns, citing the good of the people as his reason for it
October 28: Cuomo is charged with forcible touching
The majority of the allegations that James said amounted to serial sexual harassment were non-physical.
One of them applied to a nurse who gave the governor his first on-camera COVID-19 test.
He told her she made the ‘gown look good’, which James considered sexual harassment.
Others said Cuomo asked them about their boyfriends – which he admits – and that he ‘clearly’ insinuated wanting to sleep with them, but never did.
Cuomo fight the claims, resisting an Albany impeachment proceeding and pushing on with the COVID governance he was revered for at the start of the year, before eventually bowing out.
Since resigning, he has made few public statements aside from to bash James and her report, which he says is all politically motivated.
The allegations of sexual misconduct peppered the final year of his ten year governorship.
He got the job after his predecessor, Elliot Spitzer, resigned in shame having been caught patronizing a prostitution service.
Cuomo always denied that he was a sex pest and said at worst, he made inappropriate comments and jokes as an affectionate Italian man, like his father was.
The sexual misconduct allegations came at the same time as claims of gross negligence stemming from Cuomo’s order to send thousands of COVID-19 positive elderly people back into New York nursing homes, a decision which many say proved fatal.
Not only did those infected patients infect others and lead to more deaths, critics say Cuomo’s administration also tried to cover it up by deliberately skewing COVID deaths numbers.
For months, his administration reported the deaths of people who contracted COVID in nursing homes as ‘hospital deaths’ because they had died in hospitals.
He was only reporting nursing home deaths for people who contracted COVID in the nursing home and died in the nursing home.
His administration says it was an innocent error in numbers reporting.
Cuomo’s political enemies seized on that scandal and the sexual misconduct claims, both of which were made even more irresistible when he released a smug memoir last October in the height of the second wave, titled Lessons in Leadership.
Cuomo was panned for writing the self-congratulatory book at a time when dozens of people were still dying every day in the state.
The women who accused Gov Andrew Cuomo of harassment
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Former aide Lindsay Boylan, 36, was the first woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment in a Medium post on February 24. She claimed that the governor asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017.
Lindsay Boylan, 36
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Charlotte Bennett, 25, came forward a few days after Boylan and claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed her last June while she was working as a health policy adviser in his administration at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
Bennett accused Cuomo of ‘grooming’ her and asking inappropriate questions about her sex life.
She also claimed that he told her he was open to dating women in their 20s.
BENNETT said the governor asked her about her love life – including whether she ever had sex with older men – and talked about his own, saying that age differences didn’t matter in relationships and he was open to dating women over 22.
During a meeting alone in his office, the governor said he was lonely and talked about wanting to hug someone, Bennett said.
She said she swiftly complained to Cuomo’s chief of staff and was transferred to another job.
She said she spoke to a lawyer for the governor, but didn´t insist on further action because she liked her new post and wanted to move on.
Charlotte Bennett, 25
Anna Ruch, 33
Anna Ruch was the third woman to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment and the only one thus far who did not work with him in a professional capacity. She claimed that Cuomo put his hands on her face and asked if he could kiss her just moments after they met at a September 2019 wedding in Manhattan.
Anna Ruch, 33
Ana Liss, 35
Ana Liss, 35, a former aide, said Cuomo asked her whether she had a boyfriend, once kissed her hand at her desk and called her by patronizing names, including ‘blondie,’ ‘sweetheart’ and ‘honey.’
At a reception, the governor hugged her then put his arm around her lower back and waist as they posed for photo, Liss said.
She said she eventually asked for a job transfer. In an interview, Liss said she was ‘not claiming sexual harassment per se,’ but felt the administration ‘wasn’t a safe space for young women to work.’
Liss, who previously served as Cuomo’s policy and operations aide between 2013 and 2015, told the Wall Street Journal that during her time in his administration, the governor had subjected her to unsolicited advances, including touching her lower back, kissing her hand and quizzing her about her love life.
Ana Liss, 35
Karen Hinton, 62
The oldest allegations against Cuomo came from Karen Hinton, who served as a press aide for him when he led the US Department of Housing and Urban Development two decades ago and she was a consultant for the agency. Hinton told the Washington Post about a 2000 incident when she said Cuomo summoned her to his ‘dimly lit’ hotel room and embraced her after a work event. She said she tried to pull away from Cuomo when he pulled her back and held her before she managed to escape the room.
Karen Hinton, 62
Unnamed sixth accuser
The most damning allegations leveled against Cuomo to date came from a sixth accuser, whose name has not been released.
The accuser, who is a member of Cuomo’s staff, alleged that he closed a door, reached under her blouse and fondled her after summoning her to the governor’s mansion in Albany for help with his cellphone, according to the Times Union of Albany.
It first reported on her accusation last month; she then gave more detail in her first interview on the matter, published Wednesday.
The woman spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, although her identity is known within the governor´s circle, the Times Union reported.
The woman, an executive assistant, told the Times Union the governor gave her kisses on the cheek and inappropriately tight hugs for years and made remarks including, ‘If you were single, the things that I would do to you’ and ‘I’m single and ready to mingle.’
Then, one day in November, she was summoned to his Executive Mansion office to help him with a cellphone problem, she said.
He got up from his desk, started groping her and told her ‘I don’t care’ after she tried to deflect him by saying he was going to get them into trouble, and then he slammed the door, she said.
Then he reached under her blouse and clutched one of her breasts over her bra, she told the newspaper.
The woman told a colleague this winter about the alleged encounter, and the co-worker told a supervisor in early March, according to the newspaper.
Cuomo called the report ‘gut-wrenching’ in a March statement and said: ‘I have never done anything like this.’
Another female aide, who has remained anonymous, claimed he called her to his Executive Mansion last year, reached under her blouse and fondled her
Jessica Bakeman claimed in a first-person article for New York Magazine that she was sexually harassed by Cuomo on several occasions since the start of her journalism career in 2012.
Bakeman added her voice as the seventh accuser as she detailed inappropriate touching by the governor as he continued to deny all of the claims.
‘He took my hand, as if to shake it, then refused to let go,’ Bakeman wrote of an interaction with Cuomo as she said goodnight at a holiday party in 2014 when she was only 25 years old.
‘He put his other arm around my back, his hand on my waist, and held me firmly in place while indicating to a photographer he wanted us to pose for a picture.’
At the time Bakeman had been working for what is now Politico New York and claimed that red flags went up as her ‘job was to analyze and scrutinize him’.
‘I didn’t want a photo of him with his hands on my body and a smile on my face,’ she wrote.
Jessica Bakeman, a reporter who once covered the Cuomo administration, was the seventh woman to come forward with claims of harassment
‘But I made the reflexive assessment that most women and marginalized people know instinctively, the calculation about risk and power and self-preservation. I knew it would be far easier to smile for the brief moment it takes to snap a picture than to challenge one of the most powerful men in the country.’
In an earlier 2012 incident while she was working for USA Today, Bakeman also claims that Cuomo kept her pinned to his side as he told a story to her male colleagues.
‘He left it there, and kept me pinned next to him, for several minutes as he finished telling his story,’ she said. ‘I stood there, my cheeks hot, giggling nervously as my male colleagues did the same. We all knew it was wrong, but we did nothing.’
The reporter, who now works in Florida, claimed that Cuomo ‘never let me forget I was a woman’ as she also alleged that he made frequent attempts to humiliate her, including calling out her purple phone instead of answering her question during a press gaggle.
Alyssa McGrath, 33
McGrath, a current administrative assistant in Cuomo’s office, told The New York Times that he looked down her shirt, quizzed her about her marital status, and told her she was beautiful, using an Italian phrase she had to ask her parents to interpret.
McGrath didn’t say the governor made sexual contact with her but thought his behavior was sexual harassment.
She recalled Cuomo kissing her on the forehead and gripping her firmly around the sides while posing for a photo at a 2019 office Christmas party.
Alyssa McGrath (pictured) is one of two aides who have come forward to accuse the governor of harassment
Sherry Vill, 55
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct during a press conference with her attorney Gloria Allred on Monday.
She alleges Cuomo grabbed her face and kissed her ‘aggressively and in a sexual manner’ on both cheeks in May 2017 while he was touring her home in Greece, near Rochester, as he inspected local flood damage.
Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek and her attorney held up multiple photos showing the Governor inside her home.
The same photos appear on Cuomo’s Flickr account, as well as multiple others that show him kissing and greeting residents as he toured the town.
None of the women in the other photos have accused the governor of inappropriate behavior or wrongdoing.
Sherry Vill, 55, accused Cuomo of sexual misconduct on Monday. Vill, who said she felt uncomfortable at the time, shared an image her daughter took on the day that showed Cuomo holding her face as he kissed her cheek