New York Governor Calls for Independent Inquiry into Harassment Allegations | News from the United States and Canada
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo must resign after two former aides accused him of sexual harassment.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has asked the US state attorney general and a senior judge to choose a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation into the recent allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Cuomo, whose daily COVID-19 briefings have garnered him national attention in the United States, has been called upon to resign after reports revealed he failed to release the full toll of coronavirus-related deaths in New York nursing homes for the elderly.
Two former Cuomo associates also recently came forward to accuse the governor of sexual harassment.
“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment are extremely serious and painful to read,” tweeted U.S. Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a New York district, on Sunday, calling for an independent investigation.
Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of Governor Cuomo’s sexual harassment are extremely serious and painful to read.
There has to be an independent investigation – not by someone chosen by the governor, but by the attorney general’s office.
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 28, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the CNN State of the Union program that US President Joe Biden supports such an investigation.
Other Democratic lawmakers, including New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and New York City Councilor Carlos Menchaca, have gone further and called on Cuomo to step down.
The governor of New York, who has denied any wrongdoing in both cases, initially ordered what he said was a “full and thorough external review” led by a former federal judge.
But on Sunday, Cuomo’s office said it wanted to avoid “even the perception of a lack of independence or inference from politics.”
He said the governor asked New York Attorney General Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, to choose an independent lawyer to conduct a thorough review and issue a public report.
“All members of the governor’s office will cooperate fully,” Cuomo’s special counsel Beth Garvey said in a statement. “We will have no further comments until the report is released.”
In a statement later Sunday, James called on Cuomo to make an official referral so that she can launch an independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations which will have “subpoena power.”
“To clarify, I do not accept the governor’s proposal,” said James.
“State executive law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral. While I have deep respect for Chief Justice DiFiore, I am the duly elected Attorney General and it is my responsibility to perform this task in accordance with executive law.
“The governor must provide this referral so that an independent subpoena investigation can be conducted.”