The New York attorney general on Monday appointed a former top federal attorney and senior labor law attorney to lead the investigation into allegations that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually molested several women.
Also on Monday, a spokesman for the New York Congregation minority leader William Barclay told the media that a Republican-sponsored resolution would be introduced by the end of the day to initiate impeachment proceedings against Cuomo.
Republicans have a relatively small minority of seats in the assembly and cannot force Democrats to indict Democrat Cuomo.
However, there were growing demands from the Democrats for Cuomo’s resignation. The governor has said he will not resign voluntarily.
In another development on Monday, Cuomo said his attorney, Kumiki Gibson, would be leaving that post to take a position in the private sector. Beth Garvey, who is Cuomo’s special adviser and senior advisor, will take on Gibson’s acting job.
Garvey was implicated in a failed attempt to induce a former federal judge, instead of Attorney General Letitia James, to investigate allegations that Cuomo molested former aides and behaved inappropriately with other women.
After a backlash to the idea, Cuomo’s office suggested that James share oversight of the probe with the state’s chief judge. The attorney general denied the agreement, and the governor’s office then said it would ask them to oversee the investigation on their own.
James said Monday that the investigation would be led by Joon Kim, who served as acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from March 2017 through the following January, and Anne Clark, who has represented numerous plaintiffs in sexual harassment lawsuits .
Kim is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton law firm, while Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark.
“The people of New York deserve a full and independent investigation into these allegations, and I am determined to persevere,” said Clark in a statement released by James’ office.
In a statement, Kim said, “These are grave allegations that require strict and impartial investigation. We will act sensibly and pursue the facts wherever they lead.”
James also named three other lawyers, Jennifer Kennedy Park, Abena Mainoo, and Yannick Grant, to help conduct the investigation.
“We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts,” said James.
Kim and Clark “are independent legal professionals with decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law,” said James.
“There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background to lead this investigation and give New Yorkers the answers they deserve.”
Debra Katz, attorney for one of Cuomo’s accusers Charlotte Bennett, said the selection of Kim and Clark “shows that Attorney General Letitia James takes this matter very seriously”.
“We are encouraged by the experience and background of the attorneys who will investigate Charlotte’s claims and expect the investigation to extend into the claims of the other women we know are out there,” said Katz.
It is important that this investigation not only focus on what Governor Cuomo said and did. It also needs to focus on the culture of secrecy, abuse and fear he has cultivated among his staff – often below Violation of the laws he signed protecting workers from sexual harassment. We look forward to working with investigators. “
The investigation began on February 24 when Lindsey Boylan, a former state business development officer, wrote in a Medium post that Cuomo had “abused his governor’s power to sexually harass me, as he did many other women did. ” . “
Boylan, who is running for Manhattan District President, wrote that Cuomo kissed her once without her consent and suggested as a joke that they play strip poker while on an official flight. The governor’s office declined Boylan’s account.
Days later, another former Cuomo aide, Bennett, told the New York Times that he had asked her questions about her sex life and whether she “had ever been with an older man.” Bennett, who played soccer against one of Cuomo’s daughters in middle school, is 25 years old while the governor is 63 years old.
Shortly after this article, the Times published claims made by former Obama’s White House employee Anna Ruch that Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back at a wedding reception and told her that she looked “aggressive” when he was with her His face and then asked if he could kiss her.
Cuomo has said that he “never made progress” to Bennett.
However, he also apologized last week and said, “I understand now that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. … It was unintentional.”
Karen Hinton, who served as Cuomo’s press secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told the Washington Post in recent days that Cuomo invited her to his Los Angeles hotel room and hugged her in 2000 when she tried to leave the room and pull her back to him when she moves again to leave.
Ana Liss, who had worked as the governor’s advisor to Cuomo, told the Wall Street Journal that he hugged her, kissed her on both cheeks and grabbed her waist.
Cuomo’s office flatly denied Hinton’s account, saying it “didn’t happen”. Referring to Liss’s allegation, his office said that Cuomo had a known habit of kissing and posing for pictures to both men and women.
“That’s what people do in politics,” said Cuomo’s senior advisor Rich Azzopardi.