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New York AG Calls For Investigation Into Cuomo Harassment Claims With Subpoena Power

   DailyWire.com
Letitia James, New York's attorney general, speaks during a news conference in New York, U.S., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. New York is seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association as the state attorney general accused the gun rights group and its current and former senior officials of engaging in a massive fraud against donors.
Peter Foley/Bloomberg/Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James has called for an investigation into the sexual harassment claims against Governor Andrew Cuomo that would have subpoena power, an idea that would seemingly stand at odds with Cuomo’s proposed method for reviewing the claims against him.

“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,” remarked James, a Democrat, in a Twitter statement on Sunday afternoon. “While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DeFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”

According to CNN, Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior advisor to the governor, released a statement requesting that James and DeFiore, the chief court of appeals judge, select a lawyer to conduct a review of the harassment allegations against Cuomo. The statement also said that Cuomo’s original request, which involved hand-picking Federal Judge Barbara Jones to review the allegations against him, was scrapped to avoid “even the perception of a lack of independence of inference of politics.”

“Accordingly we have asked the Attorney General of New York State and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report. The work product will be solely controlled by that independent lawyer personally selected by the Attorney General and Chief Judge,” said Garvey.

According to The Associated Press, James would need a referral from Cuomo in order to begin an independent investigation, and a spokesperson for James emphasized that the Cuomo administration’s proposed method of review would not have subpoena power.

Cuomo, who has been embroiled in the New York nursing home deaths scandal, has been accused of sexual harassment by two former aides, one of whom made her accusations to The New York Times in an article that was published on Saturday.

Charlotte Bennet, 25, told the Times that Cuomo had asked her questions about her sex life back at the beginning of the pandemic, including whether she practiced monogamy and whether she had ever had sex with an older man. Bennet also said Cuomo told her that he was open to having a relationship with a woman in her 20s. Cuomo, 63, told the Times that he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate,” and called her a “hard-working and valued member” of his staff.

“The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported,” said Cuomo, who reportedly didn’t deny asking her personal questions.

On Wednesday, Lindsay Boylan, 36, accused Cuomo of kissing her while they were alone in his office back in 2018. She also accused the governor of jokingly suggesting that they play strip poker, an incident Boylan said happened in proximity of two others while on a flight.

Caitlin Girouard, a spokesperson for Cuomo, said Boylan’s claims were “simply false.” Boylan first made an accusation against Cuomo in December 2020 but declined to provide details until last Wednesday, when she published a Medium post about her allegations. The governor’s office subsequently released a statement from four current and former administration officials who were reportedly on flights with Cuomo and Boylan during the month of the alleged strip poker conversation, and those officials said that the conversation “did not happen.”

Bennet no longer works for the Cuomo administration; Boylan left the Cuomo administration in 2018 and is currently running for Manhattan Borough President.

Many Democrats were quick to criticize the Cuomo administration’s apparent attempt to try and have input in the process of analyzing the harassment allegations against him.

“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read,” said Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) early Sunday morning. “There must be an independent investigation – not one led by an individual selected by the Governor, but by the office of the Attorney General.”

“This is no joke. There must be an independent investigation into these allegations. The accused CANNOT appoint the investigator. PERIOD,” tweeted Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a former district attorney for Nassau County, after Bennet’s allegations were published in The New York Times.

In response to Garvey’s statement on Sunday morning, Rice reiterated her calls for an independent investigation. “Enough is enough. The accused is still trying to control this process. Make the referral to the AG with subpoena power ASAP,” said Rice.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told CNN on Sunday that President Joe Biden supports an independent review of the sexual harassment allegations made against Cuomo. “They’re serious. It was hard to read that story as a woman, and that process should move forward as quickly as possible​,​ and that’s something we all support and the ​p​resident supports​,” said Psaki.

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