New York

Lawyers Appointed for Cuomo Sexual Harassment Probe, Republicans Will Seek Impeachment of New York Governor

Source: New York State
  • New York GOP lawmakers Monday moved to try to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the state's attorney general appointed a former federal prosecutor and an employment lawyer to lead the investigation into claims Cuomo sexually harassed several women.
  • A spokesman for New York Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay, a Republican, told media outlets an impeachment resolution will be introduced by the end of the day.
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigation would be led by Joon Kim, a former acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, who has represented numerous plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits.

New York's attorney general on Monday appointed a former top federal prosecutor and a leading employment lawyer to head the investigation into claims that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed several women.

Also Monday, a spokesman for New York Assembly Minority Leader William Barclay told media outlets that a Republican-sponsored resolution seeking to begin impeachment proceedings against Cuomo will be introduced by the end of the day.

Republicans hold a relatively small minority of seats in the Assembly and cannot compel Democrats to impeach Cuomo, who is a Democrat.

However, there have been growing calls by Democrats for Cuomo to resign. The governor has said he will not voluntarily leave office.

In another development Monday, Cuomo said his counsel, Kumiki Gibson, was leaving that post to take a position in the private sector. Beth Garvey, who serves as Cuomo's special counsel and senior advisor, will take Gibson's job on an acting basis.

Garvey was involved in a failed, ham-handed effort to have a former federal judge, instead of Attorney General Letitia James, investigate allegations that Cuomo harassed former aides and engaged in inappropriate conduct with other women.

After a backlash to that idea, Cuomo's office suggested James share oversight of the probe with the state's top judge. The attorney general refused that arrangement, and the governor's office then said it would ask her to have sole oversight of the investigation.

James said Monday that the probe would be led by Joon Kim, who from March 2017 through the following January served as the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, who has represented numerous plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits.

Kim is a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, while Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark.

"The people of New York deserve an exhaustive and independent investigation into these allegations, and I am committed to seeing it through," Clark said in a statement released by James' office.

Kim, in a statement, said, "These are serious allegations that demand a rigorous and impartial investigation. We will act judiciously and follow the facts wherever they lead."

James also named three other lawyers, Jennifer Kennedy Park, Abena Mainoo and Yannick Grant, to help conduct the probe.

"We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts," James said.

Kim and Clark "are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law," James said.

"There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve."

Debra Katz, a lawyer for one of Cuomo's accusers, Charlotte Bennett, said the selection of Kim and Clark "demonstrates that Attorney General Letitia James is taking this matter very seriously."

"We are encouraged by the experience and background of the attorneys who will be investigating Charlotte's claims and expect the investigation will extend to the claims of the other women who we know to be out there," said Katz.

"It is important that this investigation isn't just centered around what Governor Cuomo said and did. It must also focus on the culture of secrecy, abuse and fear that he fostered among his staff —frequently in violation of the very laws he signed to protect workers from sexual harassment. We look forward to cooperating with the investigators."

The investigation was set in motion Feb. 24, when Lindsey Boylan, a former state economic development official, wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo had "abused his power as Governor to sexually harass me, just as he has done with so many other women."

Boylan, who is running for Manhattan borough president, wrote that Cuomo once kissed her without her consent, and as a joke suggested that they play strip poker during an official flight. The governor's office denied Boylan's account.

Days later, another former Cuomo aide, Bennett, told The New York Times that he had asked her questions about her sex life, and if she had "ever been with an older man." Bennett, who had played soccer in middle school against one of Cuomo's daughters, is 25 years old, while the governor is 63.

Shortly after that article the Times published claims by former Obama White House employee Anna Ruch, who said that Cuomo, at a wedding reception, put his hand on her bare lower back, told her that she seemed "aggressive" as he cupped her face and then asked if he could kiss her.

Cuomo has said that he "never made advances" to Bennett.

However, he also apologized last week, saying, "I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. ... It was unintentional."

Karen Hinton, who served as Cuomo's press aide when he was secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told The Washington Post in recent days that Cuomo invited her to his hotel room in Los Angeles in 2000 and embraced her as she tried to leave the room, then pulled her back toward him as she moved again to leave.

Ana Liss, who had worked as an aide to Cuomo when he was governor, told The Wall Street Journal that he hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist.

Cuomo's office flatly denied Hinton's account, saying it "did not happen." His office said, referring to Liss' claim, that Cuomo has a well-known habit of kissing both men and women and posing for pictures.

"That's what people in politics do," said Cuomo's senior advisor, Rich Azzopardi.

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