Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is anticipated to be questioned on Saturday by investigators from the New York State legal professional basic’s workplace, signaling four-month-long inquiry into a number of sexual harassment accusations could also be coming into its remaining levels.
Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark, the 2 outdoors attorneys employed to lead the investigation that’s being overseen by Letitia James, the state legal professional basic, are anticipated to interview the governor in Albany, in accordance to two individuals conversant in the matter.
The attorneys have spent months gathering hours of testimony from a number of girls who’ve accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual misconduct or harassment. The attorneys have additionally in current weeks interviewed senior administration officers in preparation for questioning the governor.
They have subpoenaed and picked up troves of data, together with state paperwork, emails and textual content messages, as they scrutinize the ladies’s accounts and look at whether or not Mr. Cuomo and his workers broke any legal guidelines in coping with sexual harassment complaints.
Once their investigation is full, Mr. Kim, a former senior federal prosecutor, and Ms. Clark, a outstanding employment lawyer, are anticipated to subject their findings in a public report. Its contents may very well be politically devastating for Mr. Cuomo, who’s navigating one of the turbulent factors of his decade-long tenure. The governor, a Democrat, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
While most of the state’s high Democrats known as on Mr. Cuomo to resign earlier this 12 months, many others stated they might watch for the end result of the investigation earlier than weighing in his destiny. The findings might inform a separate, broader impeachment investigation being carried out in the State Assembly, which can be wanting on the governor’s dealing with of nursing dwelling deaths throughout the pandemic, amongst different controversies.
It stays unclear precisely when the investigation will finish, and there’s no deadline for a report to be issued; Ms. James stated final month that the inquiry “will conclude when it concludes.”
While Mr. Cuomo’s deposition suggests the investigation is in its later levels, it doesn’t essentially assure the inquiry is closing: Investigators might nonetheless name him, and different witnesses, for follow-up interviews primarily based on his testimony and different proof. But an individual conversant in the investigation has stated a report is on monitor to be launched earlier than summer time’s finish.
A spokeswoman for the legal professional basic’s workplace declined to touch upon Thursday.
Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, stated in a press release, “We have said repeatedly that the governor doesn’t want to comment on this review until he has cooperated.” Mr. Azzopardi added that “the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general’s review.” He supplied no proof that the legal professional basic was leaking data.
The Cuomo administration has additionally come below fireplace for administering coronavirus checks to the governor’s youthful brother, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, and different members of the family on a precedence foundation initially of the pandemic when checks have been scarce — a problem that federal prosecutors are inspecting as a part of a separate investigation.
The legal professional basic can be taking a look at Mr. Cuomo’s use of state sources as he wrote and promoted his current pandemic memoir, a e-book deal from which the governor is anticipated to obtain $5.1 million.
The governor’s upcoming deposition comes about two months after investigators subpoenaed a minimum of 4 of his accusers to testify below oath and some weeks after a number of of his high aides have been additionally interviewed.
In a minimum of among the interviews, the questioning principally targeted on the sexual harassment allegations which have surfaced in revealed experiences, in accordance to one individual with data of Mr. Kim’s inquiry. The questions additionally touched on whether or not there was an abusive office tradition in Mr. Cuomo’s workplace.
Ms. James, a Democrat, launched her investigation in March after a lot of former and present feminine aides accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual impropriety, starting from undesirable hugs and feedback that made them really feel uncomfortable to sexual advances and inappropriate touching.
Lindsey Boylan, a former official on the state’s financial growth company, was the primary girls to accuse the governor, saying he had given her an unsolicited kiss on the lips after a gathering. Another feminine staffer, who has remained unnamed, has accused Mr. Cuomo of groping her in the Executive Mansion in Albany.
Lawyers for each girls stated in May that that they had been subpoenaed to testify below oath and would cooperate totally with the legal professional basic’s investigation.
Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo, advised The Times in February that the governor, who is sort of 40 years her senior, made sexual overtures whereas they have been alone in his State Capitol workplace, at one level asking her whether or not she had slept with older males earlier than.
Investigators interviewed Ms. Bennett for eight hours below oath in May, a deposition that her lawyer, Debra Katz, described as “incredibly thorough and comprehensive.” Ms. Bennett additionally supplied investigators with greater than “120 pages of contemporaneous records” meant to again up her claims, Ms. Katz stated.
Mr. Cuomo, who initially apologized for making “people feel uncomfortable,” has extra not too long ago forcefully denied any wrongdoing, saying that he’s keen to inform his aspect of the story. His aides have appeared to discredit the investigation, suggesting that it was being pushed by Ms. James’s political motivations: She is rumored to have an interest in working for governor.
The investigation is being carried out by outdoors attorneys to keep away from the looks of a battle of curiosity. One of the attorneys has a historical past with Mr. Cuomo: Mr. Kim was chief counsel to Preet Bharara, the previous U.S. legal professional for the Southern District of New York, when the workplace was investigating Mr. Cuomo’s determination in 2014 to disband the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel.
In 2017, Mr. Kim turned appearing U.S. legal professional for 10 months when President Donald J. Trump pressured Mr. Bharara out of workplace. During that point, Mr. Kim was concerned in the pretrial preparation in the prosecution of Joseph Percoco, a former shut aide of the governor who was convicted of federal corruption prices in 2018.
The monthslong watch for the legal professional basic’s report has left the State Capitol in suspense, but it surely has additionally given Mr. Cuomo time to mount an effort to rehabilitate his picture, stabilize his ballot numbers and shore up help amongst elected officers and key constituencies, particularly Black voters. He has sought to current a semblance of normalcy by holding information conferences and ribbon-cutting occasions to have fun New York’s financial reopening, at occasions standing subsequent to politicians who had beforehand known as on him to resign.
Recently, he has targeted his messaging on gun violence and public security, a urgent subject for voters amid a spike in shootings in most of the state’s main cities. On Wednesday, he held a joint information convention on the subject with Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City.
J. David Goodman contributed reporting.