Over 10,000 pages of interviews, emails and text messages released Monday by state Attorney General Letitia James stemming from her office’s investigation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo detail his inner circle’s actions to deflect accusations of sexual misconduct.
Key links in that circle were employed outside of the
governor’s office — most prominently the governor’s brother, CNN anchor
Chris Cuomo, revealed in messages to have used his media-world
connections in a bid to blunt scrutiny of his older sibling’s actions.
The new materials, from an investigation culminating in
an August report, also show current and former staffers mobilizing to
discredit Cuomo’s first two public accusers, Lindsey Boylan and
Charlotte Bennett. The troves follow a document drop earlier this month
that included the governor’s evasive interview with investigators hired
by James’ office, as well as testimony from multiple women who alleged
Cuomo, who has repeatedly denied the harassment accusations, resigned in August under
threat of impeachment from the state Legislature. Last month, he was
charged with a misdemeanor sex crime in Albany stemming from an
allegation he forcibly touched an aide in the Executive Mansion.
The thousands of pages of testimony, conducted under
oath, offer a glimpse into how members of the Cuomo administration and
some of his closest advisers crafted a public relations strategy to
discredit the women who accused him — and used their extensive
connections to try to get ahead of the allegations.
The reams of documents that accompany them are a fraction
of the material collected by investigators enlisted by James, who is
now running for governor.
In mid-August, following the attorney general’s bombshell
report, the younger Cuomo assured his CNN viewers that he “tried to do
the right thing” and advised his brother to resign as governor, after
The Washington Post reported that the TV journalist joined strategy calls with the governor’s advisers.
“I wasn’t in control of anything,” Chris Cuomo told
viewers. “I was there to listen and offer my take. And my advice to my
brother was simple and consistent — own what you did, tell people what
you’ll try to do to be better, be contrite.”
But materials released Monday show the depth of the
younger Cuomo’s involvement — which included drafting statements for his
brother to deny the alleged sexual misconduct and offering edits and
insights on statements crafted by his senior aides.
“As the situation started to accelerate, my brother asked
me to be in the loop,” Chris Cuomo told investigators, the transcript
of his interview shows. But text messages between the pair also show DeRosa
deploying Chris Cuomo and his media-elite connections to shield his big
DeRosa sent requests to the CNN host asking for “intel”
on a then-unpublished story by The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, whose
exposes had previously uncovered sexual misconduct by media mogul Harvey
Weinstein and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Chris
Cuomo responded 10 minutes later, saying that the story was “not ready
And while the younger Cuomo testified under oath that he
did not reach out to sources to get information about the complainants
or do opposition research on them, text messages, documents and other
testimony gathered by investigators show the contrary.
The CNN host told investigators that he would reach
“sources — other journalists — to see if they had heard of anybody” who
was planning on accusing the governor.
On March 4, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa to tell her that he
had a “lead on the wedding girl” — an apparent reference to Anna Ruch,
who accused the governor of grabbing her face and making her feel
uncomfortable at a wedding they both attended.