Cuomo on allegations: “We can talk about it when we have facts established”

Cuomo Under Fire

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signaled that he was done speaking publicly about the sexual harassment claims made against him in recent weeks. On a phone call with reporters, the governor said he would not take any questions or make any comments on the “review” underway.

“Let the lawyers do their job and let them conduct the review,” Cuomo said. “Then we can talk about it when we have facts established.”

At least seven women have accused the governor of misconduct. Earlier in the day, Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie and Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine selected Davis Polk & Wardwall LLP to lead the impeachment investigation being conducted. The inquiry is expected to be broad, possibly focusing on the allegations made against the governor, his administration’s handling of nursing home data during the coronavirus pandemic, and the Mario Cuomo Bridge.

“I’m going to respect the review and I won’t comment on it or related matters,” Cuomo added.

Meanwhile, attorneys Joon Kim and Anne Clark are also looking into the harassment allegations on behalf of New York State Attorney General Letitia James. That team met with Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett on Monday and is expected to meet with another accuser, Ana Liss, later this week.

Heastie said Wednesday the judiciary committee looked at “a few” firms before selecting Davis Polk.

“They were vetted externally by us and internally by the firm,” the speaker said. “I don’t believe there is going to be any conflict.”

But Debra Katz, an attorney representing Bennett, had criticism for the selection of Davis Polk. She questioned the relationship between Cuomo and Dennis Glazer, a former lawyer at the law firm.

“This is an unacceptable conflict of interest,” Katz said in a statement.

Cuomo appointed Glazer chair of the Purchase College Council in August 2019, according to his bio on the college’s website.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, the highest ranking Republican in Western New York’s delegation of legislators, suggested the assembly didn’t have to go forward with an impeachment investigation at all, and should just put an impeachment resolution on the floor for a vote.

“To me there is enough there,” Ortt said on Tuesday, before the selection of Davis Polk. “You don’t need to do this. That’s the first part. I think it’s important because now we’re also going to talk about spending what I would think is going to be a considerable amount of money on an outside law firm.”

Ortt speculated the firm’s hiring could cost at least seven figures. Heastie said the contract with Davis Polk was still being negotiated.

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