ALBANY, NY (AP) – Former Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared at times a boxer and paranoid during an 11-hour deposition, made public Wednesday, denying allegations of sexual harassment that forced him out of office while attributing political motives. to people who investigated his behavior.
Its alleged victims, meanwhile, described a “toxic” job in the administration where they were subjected to cruel remarks, disturbing questions about their sex lives, hazing and bullying.
New York Attorney General Letitia James released hundreds of pages of transcripts Wednesday of interviews done earlier this year by two independent investigators with 10 of Cuomo’s accusers, as well as the governor himself.
The interviews, conducted by former interim US attorney for Manhattan, Joon Kim, and labor attorney Anne Clark, focused primarily on the serious allegations against Cuomo, including the allegation that he attempted to groped the breast. a helper after summoning her to his office in 2020.
But they also produced strange moments and offered a window into Cuomo’s confrontational style.
Here are the important moments of the many hours of testimony:
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Several former employees testified in detail about Cuomo and other staff men speaking in a humiliating and disparaging way of women.
Brittany Commisso, the aide who said Cuomo attempted her at the executive mansion last year, said the governor would search for her top down and once asked her if she ever had sex. with someone other than her husband.
“He would comment on me wearing a particular thing, on how skinny I was,” said Commisso. “That I was fine for my age and to be a mother.”
“When I was wearing a dress, she commented that it was time for you to show a leg.”
When she was promoted to executive assistant, former aide Charlotte Bennett bought heels to wear because colleagues made it clear that Cuomo expected it.
“It felt like we had gone back a few decades somehow,” Bennett said.
Cuomo said he may have referred to the women on his staff as “darling”, “darling” or “darling”.
“You know, once in my life, ‘honey’ was a good thing to say, ‘honey’ was a good thing to say,” she said. “It isn’t anymore.”
However, when asked if he had any regrets about anything he said to women in the workplace, Cuomo said “no”.
At one point during his testimony, Cuomo suggested that he gave his bureau chief the authority to sign legislation into law on his behalf.
Kim handed him a copy of a 2019 form that the governor allegedly signed saying he has completed the state’s mandatory annual sexual harassment training. Kim asked Cuomo if the signature on the form was really hers.
Cuomo said it may have actually been signed by his office manager, Stephanie Benton.
Cuomo said Benton could sign “pretty much any paperwork they come across on my desk,” including executive orders and checks. Sometimes he used an automatic machine that replicated Cuomo’s signature. Or she scribbled her name herself.
“I’m not asking for an automatic signature,” Kim clarified. “I am asking to physically sign a document. Stephanie Benton physically signed invoices for you, legislation? “
“Maybe,” Cuomo said.
Hours later, at the request of his lawyer, Cuomo made it clear that Benton used the autopen device only to sign the legislation.
Cuomo acknowledged that he did not take the necessary training on sexual harassment in 2020 or 2021, saying he is focused on the COVID-19 pandemic.
This contradicts what Cuomo told reporters last May when he claimed he took a training course on sexual harassment “this year”.
Cuomo took a confrontational tone with Kim and Clark, telling them their investigation was “biased” and “political”.
Cuomo complained that he had referred the investigation to the Attorney General on the condition that he chose an “independent auditor”. Kim’s choice, the governor said what was “a perversion” of that condition because while he was a federal prosecutor he had investigated the administration. And Cuomo said Clark had a “bias” because he works as a labor lawyer.
Cuomo also suggested that Kim was a puppet who carried out the orders of his predecessor in the office of the US Attorney, Preet Bharara, and of “his rabbi”, US Senator Chuck Schumer.
For the most part, Kim did not respond to the attacks. But at one point he asked Cuomo if he was looking for “negative information” about the lawyers involved in the investigation.
“Well, what are you worried about, Joon?” Cuomo said.
From time to time, Cuomo seemed to give interrogations a hard time for the sport.
At one point, he was asked if it was true that he had told a woman in his office that she looked like one of his ex-girlfriends. Cuomo retorted by debating Kim, over four pages of testimony, on the definitions of “date” and girlfriend “.
“Do you understand what a girl is?” Kim asked.
“Well, the girl means different things to different people,” Cuomo said.
Describing the culture in Cuomo’s office, former aide Charlotte Bennett said the staff called to meet Cuomo walked in in terror and distress and would sometimes be in tears afterward.
“He was largely controlled by his character, and he was surrounded by people who allowed his behavior, as if surrounded by yes men – I will use that term – this is what he wants, this is what he gets, and that mood and that anger or that fear that he would suddenly get angry definitely dominated the office and then it went downhill, “Bennett said.
The governor reportedly banged his fist on a door in frustration and on another occasion told a senior aide that he was lucky not to have thrown him out the window.
Cuomo and several of his former employees have all testified about an office nickname for his best aides: “the bad girls,” a group that included his top adviser, Melissa DeRosa.
Cuomo testified that he was aware of the nickname, but dismissed it as a “silly rumor” invented by a former male staff member.
Cuomo also argued that it is sexist to portray successful female employees as “mischievous.”
Bennett said the “bad girls” were part of Cuomo’s efforts to instill division among his employees.
“As if his test is to put someone in a position where they are being abused by the people around him and not just directly by him,” Bennett testified.