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 harassment.
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 brother.
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 for tomorrow.”
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.