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Cuomo to be questioned in sexual harassment investigation, sources say

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on June 23.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks on June 23. Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will submit to an interview Saturday regarding sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by current and former administration staffers, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Cuomo will be interviewed by investigators delegated by state Attorney General Letitia James to review the claims.

The investigation has been underway more than four months, with some of the women and some administration officials talking to investigators, according to the women and multiple media reports. Ethics experts previously have said that when Cuomo is interviewed, it is a sign the investigation will be entering its final stages.

"We have said repeatedly that the Governor doesn’t want to comment on this review until he has cooperated, but the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the Attorney General’s review," Cuomo senior adviser Richard Azzopardi said, though he offered no evidence of James' office leaking information.

James’ probe is just one of several encircling Cuomo, a Democrat now in his 11th year in office.

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 public.

Further, an impeachment committee launched by the state Assembly also is looking into the sexual harassment claims, as well as the nursing home issue and Cuomo’s recent deal for a pandemic memoir that netted him $5.1 million.

State Capitol officials and insiders have long expected James’ probe of the sexual harassment claims the most likely to be concluded first.

A number of former and current administration staff members have accused Cuomo of making unwanted sexual advances. At least one woman has alleged the governor groped her. Another has said the 63-year-old governor attempted to groom her for a sexual relationship. Several of the women already have testified under oath, marking an important step in James' probe.

Former aide Lindsey Boylan accused Cuomo of harassing her routinely and said he once suggested a game of strip poker aboard his state-owned jet. Charlotte Bennett, another former aide, said Cuomo made sexual overtures and once asked her if she ever had sex with older men.

Another current aide, who has remained anonymous, told a newspaper Cuomo contrived to have her come to the governor’s mansion alone, where he groped her.

Cuomo has resisted requests to resign from many of the highest-ranking New York Democrats and has continued to raise campaign funds for another potential reelection bid in 2022. Republican candidates have hammered the Democrat over the controversy, criticizing his bullying style and saying he’s overstayed his time in office.

The investigation into the harassment claims is being overseen by James, also a Democrat, who selected an outside law firm to conduct the probe and document its findings in a public report. For months, the firm has been interviewing the women making the claims as well as administration officials.

But the governor's testimony could be the last crucial piece.

Publicly, the governor has changed his tone in talking about the allegations that were first leveled in March.

He’s gone from a choked-up general apology to defiantly declaring he’s done nothing wrong — all while subtly suggesting the investigation shouldn’t necessarily be the last word.

In March, the governor went before television cameras to say he understood he "acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable."

"It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it," Cuomo said. "I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed by it."

But as time passed, Cuomo increasingly has pushed back on the allegations and said he did nothing wrong.

"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," Cuomo said April 29. "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."

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