Editor’s note: This briefing took place before the governor announced his resignation. For the latest on Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepping down from office, click here.
ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attorney Rita Glavin held a briefing Tuesday to address the accusations made against Cuomo.
The governor’s attorney also held a press conference on Friday where she challenged the credibility of the bombshell report from the New York Attorney General’s office that concluded the governor sexually harassed multiple women, including former and current state employees. Glavin reiterated her concerns about the report Tuesday.
“When this report came down there were dozens of people called for his resignation,” Glavin said. “The governor had no opportunity to respond, and journalists were saying things — that he had groped and fondled 11 women, and that wasn’t true, and that wasn’t in the report. The investigators acted as the prosecutors, judge, and jury of Gov. Cuomo. Nobody vetted the report.”
Echoing similar sentiments to Friday’s press conference, the governor’s attorney said the report omitted evidence. The governor has consistently denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately.
“The report omitted evidence that undermined the narrative that began on day one of this investigation,” Glavin said. “This was not about an independent review of the allegations and the circumstances surround them. From day one, this was about building a case against Gov. Cuomo. It fails to collect evidence. The investigators credited people that they know had lied in the past, or had motives to lie, and they didn’t report or explore this.”
Glavin criticized the testimony of Brittany Commisso, an executive assistant on Cuomo’s staff who accused him of groping her at the governor’s mansion last November. Cuomo has denied these allegations.
“Why didn’t the investigators get the records about when Ms. Commisso entered and left the mansion?” Glavin said. “Why didn’t they speak to any of the witnesses — and there were many in the mansion that day. They didn’t collect the documents that proved the most serious allegation was false.”
The governor’s attorney said that inaccuracies began when former aide Lindsey Boylan first went public with allegations against the governor late last year.
“The report got key facts wrong,” Glavin said. “It omitted key evidence and it failed to include witnesses whose testimony did not support the narrative that was clear this investigation was going to weave from day one. This began in December of 2020 with Lindsey Boylan. One of the things that she said in an article she published in Medium, in February a couple of months later, that she was on a plane in February and he made comments that said ‘let’s play strip poker.’ There were several other staff members on the flights with Ms. Boylan and every single one of them said that didn’t happen.”
The governor’s attorney said the presentation of the attorney general’s report has been one-sided.
“The complainants need to be scrutinized just as much as the governor, and the chamber, and that didn’t happen here,” Glavin said. “The investigation credited Lindsey Boylan despite the fact they had known she was threatening a witness to get him to change his story and he did. And the one thing that’s been missing from this is that there was a signal, about seven of eight months before Ms. Boylan made her Tweets in December, a signal that she was out for some type of revenge against the governor’s office.”
The governor’s attorney said investigators took things out of context to make him look bad.
“The governor made a joke to the doctor while she gave him a test and he said in front of a whole world ‘you make that gown look good,'” Glavin said. “That’s not sexual harassment, and I don’t know why that was included in the attorney general’s report except to say it was to add another number and make the governor look bad.”
Glavin also challenged the testimony of another accuser Charlotte Bennett.
“It is important to know that any claim that he was grooming this young woman, who is a sexual assault victim, and the added romantic interest in her could not be further from the truth,” Glavin said. “His experience with a very, very close family member who is the same age as Charlotte Bennet, that provided crucial context to the conversations he had with Ms. Bennett. The governor testified in detail about this to the attorney general’s investigators, but they did not include his detailed testimony in the report. He has, and continues to apologize to Ms. Bennett for anything that he said in the conversation he had with her that made her feel the way she did. he certainly did not mean that.”
The governor’s attorney said his actions have been misconstrued.
“The governor has said yes, he has called people darling and sweetheart and he has had to change with the times,” Glavin said. “Yes he hugs and kisses his staffers and he has had to change with the times, but this does not rise to the level of sexual harassment or groping or folding as he’s been portrayed in the press.”
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
“What we do know is the report got facts wrong and it omitted favorable evidence that didn’t support the narrative,” Glavin said. “There were 179 witness interviews, and they only transcribed, where we actually get the Q&A, 41 people. So what did the other 138 say? Because there are 179 people mentioned in that report.”
People interviewed included complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, State troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor. They also reviewed more than 74,000 piece of evidence, including documents, emails, text messages, audio files and pictures.
The governor denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately and made no indication that he would resign, despite mounting calls from local, state, and federal lawmakers — including President Joe Biden — who have voiced support for Cuomo to step down.
If he doesn’t resign, it’s increasingly looking like he could be impeached and removed from office — something that hasn’t happened to the state’s governor in nearly 108 years.
The committee of lawmakers tasked with investigating whether there are grounds to impeach Gov. Cuomo met with lawyers on Monday to discuss the next steps.
The governor’s top aide, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, resigned late Sunday.
DeRosa, who had been one of Cuomo’s most fierce defenders and strategists, said in a statement that serving the people of New York had been “the greatest honor of my life,” but she added that “Personally, the past two years have been emotionally and mentally trying.”
This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.