House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says sexual assault allegations made against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are ‘serious and credible’ while calling for due process in the investigation.
Pelosi joined a growing number of Democrat and Republican politicians calling for investigations into Cuomo after a second former aide came forward with sexual harassment allegations.
‘The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity,’ Pelosi said in a statement to Fox News.
‘The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, has said sexual assault allegations made against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo are ‘serious and credible’
On Sunday, Cuomo said that he was ‘truly sorry’ and acknowledged he’d been ‘insensitive’ in response to the sexual harassment claims
Charlotte Bennett, 25, (left) came out on Saturday and said Cuomo told her he was open to dating women in their 20s and asked her questions about her personal life in June. It comes after Lindsey Boylan, 36, (right) claimed he asked her to play strip poker and kissed her on the lips without her permission when she worked for him in 2017
Cuomo has been accused of asking Charlotte Bennett, 25, inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men while she was a health policy adviser.
Lindsey Boylan, 36, recently accused Cuomo an unwanted kiss and asking her to play strip poker while working as a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, which he has denied.
On Sunday, Cuomo said that he was ‘truly sorry’ and acknowledged he’d been ‘insensitive’ in response to sexual harassment claims against him.
Cuomo added that he had ‘never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm’.
He explained that he would often be ‘playful and make jokes that I think are funny… (and) tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times.’
The embattled governor, 63, said that his ‘joking’ was an attempt to add ‘levity and banter’ to ‘serious business.’
‘I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,’ he said.
‘I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.’
Cuomo added: ‘To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.’
Pelosi’s call for due process came after New York Attorney General Letitia James rejected Cuomo’s attempt to appoint his own investigator into the allegations.
James, pictured, has demanded Cuomo refer the entire investigation into alleged sexual harassment to her
New York state Sen Alessandra Biaggi branded Andrew Cuomo a ‘monster’ as politicians on both sides of the aisle turn their backs on the governor
Biaggi, chair of the Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee, led lawmakers in condemning Cuomo on Saturday
Cuomo agreed James could handle the probe – but only if his ally, Judge Janet DiFiore, worked alongside her.
But James has demanded he refer the entire investigation to her with ‘subpoena power’, saying: ‘To clarify, I do not accept the governor’s proposal. The state’s 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 Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.’
Cuomo added that his office heard that people reached out to Bennett to ‘express displeasure’ at her claims.
‘My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now – period,’ Cuomo said.
On Friday, he had promised a review of the allegations by former federal judge Barbara Jones – who was appointed by Bill Clinton. Cuomo was in Clinton’s cabinet as Housing and Urban Development secretary.
But that decision sparked outrage, with many noting Jones had also worked with Cuomo’s close ally Steven M. Cohen, who has served as secretary to the governor.
New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi branded Cuomo a ‘monster’ and called on him to resign on Saturday as politicians on both sides of the aisle turned their backs on the governor.
‘@NYGovCuomo, you are a monster, and it is time for you to go. Now,’ Biaggi, a Democrat from the Bronx, wrote on Twitter.
At least 25 lawmakers have since backed James in calling for an independent investigation.
‘There must be an independent investigation — not one led by an individual selected by the Governor, but by the office of the Attorney General,’ Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday.
Carl E. Heastie, the Assembly speaker, tweeted: ‘I believe the Attorney General should make an appointment to ensure that it is a truly independent investigation.’
Democratic state senator Liz Krueger said: ‘With all due respect, you can’t pick a federal judge who works with your good friend and decide that that’s going to be the investigator.’
Even White House press secretary Jen Psaki chimed in calling for ‘an independent review looking into these allegations,’ which she said President Joe Biden supports.