By Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. — Over an 11-hour interview with investigators last July, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defiantly denied allegations he sexually harassed women and sparred with the lawyers questioning him, accusing one of being out to get him, according to a transcript released on Wednesday.
New York Attorney General Letitia James made public hundreds of pages of transcripts of interviews conducted by two independent lawyers, hired by her office, during their monthslong probe of sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
In their interviews with investigators, conducted over several months, the women accusing Cuomo of misconduct laid out their horror stories of working for a boss who made comments about women’s looks, asked questions about sex and gave inappropriate touches and kisses.
The transcripts covered interviews done with 10 of the women who accused Cuomo of misconduct, plus the interview that Cuomo himself gave on July 17.
Most of the allegations, and Cuomo’s defenses, have been aired publicly before in interviews, news conferences and a report published by James’ office in August that sparked public outrage and pushed Cuomo to resign from office. But the transcripts offer a new level of detail on the allegations against the Democrat and Cuomo’s confrontational interview.
During the interrogation, Cuomo insisted he was careful in how he behaved around women and said several of his accusers had misrepresented what happened. He also bristled at a groping allegation by an aide, Brittany Commisso, who said Cuomo had pulled her toward him and grabbed her breast in the governor’s mansion.
Cuomo, 63, said it would be “not even feasible” for him to have done that, especially since he believed his conduct was constantly under scrutiny by enemies, including one of the lawyers then investigating him, former acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.
“You’ve investigated me for six years,” Cuomo told Kim, referring to corruption investigations conducted by federal prosecutors during Kim’s tenure, including one that sent one of Cuomo’s close friends to prison. “I would have to lose my mind to do some — such a thing. It would be an act of insanity to touch a woman’s breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation.”
“Numerous people have tried to set me up,” Cuomo said. “I’m always wary of people. I have phenomenal precautions. It would be an act of insanity.”
The Albany County sheriff’s office filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo over Commisso’s groping allegation late last month.
In her interview with investigators, Commisso said Cuomo made comments about her appearance, called her “honey” and asked her about her sex life. She said when she wore a dress rather than pants to work, the governor said it was “about time that you showed some leg.”
She also described the alleged assault at the governor’s mansion, saying that even as she pushed Cuomo away, she worried she would be the one who got in trouble if she slapped him or made a scene.
“I would be taken away by the state police officers and I would be the one that would get in trouble and I would be the one to lose my job, not him,” she said.
In her interview with investigators, Lindsey Boylan, a former economic development official who was the first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo of harassment, called his famously caustic administration “a terrible environment for everyone, whether they were sexually harassed or not.” But she told the investigators harassment was what spurred her to come forward. “If this was just a toxic work environment, we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Boylan said Cuomo regularly commented on her appearance, “constantly” looked at her legs and once kissed her on the lips without her consent.
When the governor’s dog climbed on her, Cuomo said, “Well, if I was the dog, I’d mount you, too.”
Asked by investigators whether any sexual harassment training was done while she was working in the Executive Chamber, Boylan said no, adding: “The whole building is sexual harassment.”