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Cuomo agrees to independent probe of sexual harassment allegations

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday backed off his plan to nominate a former federal decide, who has a detailed connection to one of many governor’s high advisors, to supervise an investigation of sexual harassment allegations towards him.

The Cuomo administration stated it’s going to ask New York state lawyer normal Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, chief decide on the state’s highest courtroom, to decide on who will oversee an impartial probe. The choice would assist “keep away from even the notion of a scarcity of independence or inference of politics,” Beth Garvey, particular counsel to Cuomo, stated in an announcement.

“We are going to go away all selections regarding the investigation to be made within the discretion of the impartial counsel chosen by the Legal professional Common and Chief Choose,” Garvey stated.

James, in an announcement Sunday, stated she was able to oversee an investigation and make any vital appointments. Nevertheless, she stated this may solely be completed by an official referral from the governor’s workplace, and should embrace subpoena energy.

“I urge the governor to make this referral instantly,” James stated.

The governor’s reversal comes after a slew of Democrats criticized the governor’s preliminary choose to steer a overview and referred to as for an impartial probe of allegations after a second feminine aide got here ahead to accuse Cuomo of sexual harassment. Some Democratic lawmakers additionally joined some Republicans to name on Cuomo to instantly resign.

Cuomo’s workplace initially stated it could select former federal decide Barbara Jones to steer the overview. Jones had labored with Cuomo’s high adviser Steven Cohen.

The requires an impartial investigation comply with a New York Occasions report revealed on Saturday night that described the accusations of Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former aide to the governor, who stated Cuomo had requested her about her intercourse life and whether or not she was monogamous in relationships and had ever “been with an older man.”

It was the second allegation towards the governor in per week. Former aide Lindsey Boylan, a former state financial growth official, detailed sexual harassment claims towards Cuomo final week, together with a kiss with out her consent in his Manhattan workplace. Cuomo has denied Boylan’s accusations.

Cuomo responded to Bennett’s allegations in an announcement on Saturday, saying he meant to function a mentor and “by no means made advances towards Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to behave in any means that was inappropriate.”

Stress from Democrats

White Home press secretary Jen Psaki stated Sunday Cuomo ought to face an impartial overview over each units of allegations in an interview on CNN, including that it is one thing President Joe Biden helps and “we imagine ought to transfer ahead as shortly as potential.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated the senator believes the allegations “ought to be totally and independently investigated.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., additionally referred to as for an “impartial, clear and swift investigation into these severe and deeply regarding allegations.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., joined different Democrats in calling for an impartial probe of the governor that isn’t led by somebody Cuomo has chosen, however fairly by the state lawyer normal.

“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed accounts of sexual harassment by Gov. Cuomo are extraordinarily severe and painful to learn,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet Sunday morning. “There should be an impartial investigation — not one led by a person chosen by the Governor, however by the workplace of the Legal professional Common.”

The brand new allegations additionally come after a report in January that Cuomo’s administration did not report 1000’s of Covid-19 deaths within the state’s nursing properties.

New York Mayor Invoice De Blasio, a Democrat, stated on Sunday that the state legislature should instantly revoke Cuomo’s emergency powers that overrule native management and referred to as for 2 separate impartial probes into the sexual misconduct allegations and the undercounting of deaths at nursing properties.

“New Yorkers have seen detailed, documented accounts of sexual harassment, a number of cases of intimidation, and the admitted withholding of knowledge on the deaths of over 15,000 folks,” De Blasio stated in an announcement. “Questions of this magnitude can not dangle over the heads of New Yorkers as we battle off a pandemic and financial disaster.”

New York state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi counseled the 2 girls for coming ahead with their allegations and referred to as on the governor to resign in an announcement posted on Twitter Saturday night.

“The harassment skilled by these former staffers is a part of a transparent sample of abuse and manipulation by the governor, and that sample makes him unworthy of holding the best workplace in New York,” Biaggi wrote.

Republicans additionally renewed requires Cuomo to resign following the second allegation, together with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who in an announcement on Saturday referred to as the governor a “legal sexual predator” and stated he should resign instantly.

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