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Cuomo set to be interviewed in sexual harassment probe

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York City on May 10. Credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images/MARY ALTAFFER

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was set to be interviewed Saturday by attorneys investigating multiple claims of sexual harassment leveled against him, a pivotal moment in the four-month probe that could determine his political future.

Cuomo aides did not return calls or messages about whether his scheduled deposition had occurred with investigators overseen by Attorney General Letitia James. Neither would her office comment.

Launched in March, the attorney general’s inquiry is at a critical juncture and will likely inform a separate impeachment inquiry launched by the State Assembly.

A number of women, including former and current administration staff, have accused the Democrat of unwanted sexual advances. At least one woman has alleged that the governor contrived to get her to come to the executive mansion alone, where he groped her. A former staffer, 25 years old, said the 63-year-old governor attempted to groom her for a sexual relationship.

A number of the accusers have already talked to the investigators, saying that the questions went beyond specific incidents and covered workplace conditions in the Cuomo administration. Many of the governor’s top staff also reportedly have been subpoenaed and testified.

Now, the probe has reached perhaps the most critical stage.

For months, Cuomo has said he can’t wait to tell his side of the story. He said he’s done nothing wrong and has resisted calls to resign, including from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

His office has declined to comment about Cuomo’s pending deposition.

But this spring, the governor said: "I have tried to be respectful of the process, but at the same time it has been very difficult letting people make accusations and not responding. And people have only heard one side of the story. I can’t tell you how eager I am to tell my side of the story."

The attorney for one of the women said Cuomo will be facing "seasoned investigators" under oath, a reference to the two attorneys appointed by James to conduct the inquiry: Joon H. Kim, a former federal prosecutor, and Anne L. Clark, an expert in harassment cases.

"He will not be able to deflect questions like he has at his press conference and he will not be able to play with words," said Debra S. Katz, attorney for former Cuomo staffer Charlotte Bennett.

The attorney general’s probe is a civil investigation, not criminal, but it is expected to have significant impact on a separate impeachment inquiry launched by the State Assembly.

The Assembly, as part of its broader investigation, is also looking into the underreporting of nursing home deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic and the $5.1 million book deal the governor landed during the crisis. Lawyers conducting the legislative probe already have interviewed more than 75 people, according to legislators.

Separately, the governor, now in his 11th year in office, is facing yet another investigation. The U.S. Justice Department is reviewing his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reports that Cuomo family members were given COVID-19 tests on a priority basis at a time when tests were not widely available to the general public.

Cuomo has continued to raise campaign funds for another potential reelection bid in 2022. Republican candidates have criticized the Democrat over the controversies, saying that he’s overstayed his time in office.

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