When investigators from the New York State lawyer basic’s workplace face Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for the primary time on Saturday, they’ll accomplish that with an abundance of testimony and proof.
Over the previous 4 months, attorneys investigating sexual harassment claims towards Mr. Cuomo have interviewed the ladies who’ve accused him, members of his safety element and different witnesses. They have additionally subpoenaed a cache of state data and have collected messages and knowledge from Blackberry gadgets of his senior employees members, based on an individual with information of the matter.
Most not too long ago, investigators questioned Mr. Cuomo’s closest aides and confidantes, together with Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor; Beth Garvey, his appearing counsel; Judith Mogul, particular counsel; Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser; and Larry Schwartz, a former high aide, based on an individual conversant in the matter.
Now, the accused himself is among the many final to be questioned.
The final result of the inquiry stays unsure. But Mr. Cuomo, who has denied wrongdoing, has repeatedly stated he’s keen to inform his aspect of the story for the reason that accusations first emerged earlier this 12 months, resulting in a separate impeachment investigation and requires his resignation.
The governor, a Democrat in his third time period, may have the chance to just do that on Saturday, when he’s interrogated in Albany by the investigation’s high attorneys, Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark. They had been employed in March by Letitia James, the lawyer basic, to conduct the investigation.
The governor’s deposition means that the investigation could also be getting into its last phases, and public report with the attorneys’ findings might be issued within the coming weeks. The inquiry may, nonetheless, proceed if the attorneys pursue different leads or search follow-up interviews with Mr. Cuomo or different witnesses.
Mr. Kim and Ms. Clark have been scrutinizing the small print of the harassment claims, at instances asking for corroborating paperwork or witnesses in addition to leads on different potential allegations. They have additionally requested broader questions in regards to the total office tradition within the governor’s workplace, inquiring about different potential discriminatory conduct, based on a minimum of 4 individuals who have sat in on the interviews.
The authorized group led by Mr. Kim and Ms. Clark can be inspecting whether or not Mr. Cuomo and his aides adopted state protocol in responding to complaints of sexual harassment, and whether or not they may need damaged any legal guidelines, destroyed potential proof, interfered with the investigation or retaliated towards the ladies who’ve accused Mr. Cuomo, individuals conversant in the interviews stated.
A former member of Mr. Cuomo’s employees who was interviewed beneath oath stated investigators requested whether or not the work setting when she was there was hostile or poisonous, with a number of the questions specializing in the conduct of feminine supervisors or doubtlessly insensitive remarks by the governor.
“It was not just about sexual harassment,” stated the girl, who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of she was not permitted to debate her deposition publicly. “The questions involved the nature of working there, the environment, the types of projects that we were asked to work on.”
Mr. Cuomo goes into the interview at a crucial juncture in his tenure, as he confronts overlapping state and federal investigations, a minimum of one in every of them felony, into whether or not his aides obscured the total extent of nursing dwelling deaths in the course of the pandemic, and whether or not he illegally used state assets to write down a e-book about management final 12 months for which he acquired $5.1 million.
In the previous few months, the governor has sought to steer consideration away from the investigations and scandals which have battered his administration. His technique has largely consisted of staging occasions meant to generate feel-good headlines, with a concentrate on the state’s financial rebound that portrays him as firmly in command.
Mr. Cuomo, ever aware of his public picture, has saved a detailed eye on public opinion, intent on regaining assist from voters and rehabilitating his repute earlier than a report is launched, and, presumably, a re-election marketing campaign subsequent 12 months. He has paid his longtime polling agency, Global Strategy Group, greater than $155,000 this 12 months to conduct polling, based on marketing campaign filings launched this week.
The governor has additionally used a number of the $2.5 million he raised this 12 months — the second-lowest complete for the primary half of a 12 months throughout his tenure — to pay his private authorized bills. His marketing campaign paid $285,000 to the legislation agency of Rita Glavin, who’s representing him within the sexual harassment investigation.
In latest weeks, members of Mr. Cuomo’s employees have more and more sought to discredit Ms. James’s inquiry as politically motivated, a pointy departure from the governor’s rhetoric months in the past when he initially expressed belief in her capability to supervise the investigation.
In a press release, Mr. Azzopardi stated the governor’s workplace was cooperating totally with the investigation by making employees members and paperwork out there.
“What has been unforeseen is the shocking number of politically motivated leaks that have been allowed to happen during what is increasingly demonstrating itself to be the one-sided nature of the attorney general’s review,” he added.
A spokeswoman for the lawyer basic’s workplace declined to remark.
Investigators seem to have interviewed most, if not all, of the ladies who’ve accused the governor of sexual harassment or misconduct.
Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accused Mr. Cuomo of constructing sexual advances in his Albany workplace, met with investigators for eight hours in May to testify beneath oath. She additionally turned over dozens of messages and different data that she says assist her claims.
Ms. Bennett’s allegations, which The New York Times was first to report, spurred the lawyer basic’s investigation, in addition to a seemingly heartfelt assertion from Mr. Cuomo through which he didn’t deny her claims, however apologized for his conduct. He has since flatly denied any wrongdoing.
“Clearly they are looking, in a very broad sense, at the issues of workplace culture and whether the governor maintained a sexually hostile work environment, which is clearly against the law,” Debra Katz, Ms. Bennett’s lawyer, stated. “We hope and expect that they will be equally rigorous in the questioning of the governor, who has a lot of explaining to do.”
A feminine aide who accused Mr. Cuomo of reaching beneath her shirt to grope her after she was summoned to the governor’s Executive Mansion in Albany was subpoenaed in May. The lawyer for the aide, who has not been publicly recognized, wouldn’t say whether or not she had been interviewed, however he stated that she would adjust to any subpoena.
Lindsey Boylan, a former administration official who stated Mr. Cuomo gave her an undesirable kiss on the lips, was subpoenaed, however her lawyer didn’t reply to requests for touch upon Friday about whether or not she had been interviewed.
Investigators are believed to be whether or not members of Mr. Cuomo’s employees sought to retaliate towards Ms. Boylan after she made her preliminary accusation towards the governor final 12 months. People near Mr. Cuomo circulated a letter in December that described Ms. Boylan’s declare as politically motivated and in addition disclosed personnel complaints that had been filed towards her, The Times reported in March.
Investigators have additionally gathered testimony about Mr. Cuomo’s conduct going as far again to his time as federal housing secretary beneath President Bill Clinton.
Karen Hinton, who labored intently with Mr. Cuomo on the federal housing company however has since fallen out with him, stated she spoke with Mr. Kim and Ms. Clark for over an hour in an off-the-cuff interview that was not beneath oath. The topics mentioned included harassment within the workplace and what she described as his flirtatious and abusive conduct.
Ms. Hinton stated she had shared quite a lot of anecdotes, together with one about an occasion through which she stated Mr. Cuomo inappropriately embraced her in a California resort room after a piece occasion in 2000. Mr. Cuomo has beforehand described Ms. Hinton’s allegations as false, calling her “a longtime political adversary.”
“They sort of let me tell my stories and they were very interested,” Ms. Hinton stated of the investigators. “They asked me questions, but they didn’t tell me what they thought.”