Although Chris Cuomo admitted it was a "mistake" to advise his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on his sexual harassment scandal, newly released records show the CNN anchor held a larger role in his brother's defense than had been known.
Chris Cuomo used his media "sources" and "other journalists" to look into the women who accused his brother of sexual harassment, according to dozens of transcripts, video interviews and text messages released Monday by the New York Attorney General's Office.
The younger Cuomo, for example, spoke to a friend about allegations from Anna Ruch, who accused the former governor of touching her on the lower back, touching her face and asking to kiss her at a wedding in 2019. "I have a lead on the wedding girl," Chris Cuomo texted the former governor's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, on March 4, three days after Ruch made the allegations to The New York Times.
Text message records between Chris Cuomo and DeRosa also show that the TV journalist leveraged his connections to find out whether more women were going to come forward against his brother.
"When asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out," Chris Cuomo told the state’s investigators in a deposition in July, according to a transcript of his interview.
On March 7, as rumors swirled that more women were about to come forward, DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo: "Can u check your sources." He replied, "On it."
In one instance, Chris Cuomo said he consulted people, including a journalist who "works with Ronan (Farrow) a lot," to get information about Farrow’s upcoming article and didn’t tell anyone at CNN what he was doing. He told DeRosa the article wasn't ready for publication, but Chris Cuomo never contacted Farrow directly.
CNN said Monday that the news organization was reviewing the documents and transcripts.
"The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration," CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days."
Andrew Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial after an investigation led by state Attorney General Letitia James found he sexually harassed at least 11 women. At the time, Chris Cuomo acknowledged on the air that he gave his brother advice on the allegations and revealed he urged the governor to resign.
"I'm not an adviser. I'm a brother," he said on his CNN show "Cuomo Primetime." "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 can do to be better. Be contrite. And finally, accept that it doesn't matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived."
But Monday's records show that Chris Cuomo sparred with the former governor’s aides over strategy, urging an apologetic tone and critiquing an early statement that he saw as downplaying the allegations.
On March 10, Chris Cuomo accused DeRosa of hiding information from his brother after the Albany Times-Union published an interview with an accuser. "Stop hiding (stuff)," the CNN anchor texted DeRosa. "We are making mistakes we can’t afford."
When asked about that text by state investigators in his deposition, Cuomo said he was telling DeRosa: "Don’t not tell Andrew things."
"I was worried that this wasn't being handled the right way, and it's not my job to handle it, okay?" Chris Cuomo testified. "I don't work for the governor. I'm not defending him in this matter. I'm not covering it. You know, this is – this is not what I do.
"I am worried about my brother and worried that this is being handled the best way it can. And my feeling was that, to my basic mantra, you need to tell the truth and get in front of these if you have something to say. And if you have something to own, you need to do that as well," he said.
The release of the new information is a "manipulated release of handpicked witness testimony with selective redactions," Rich Azzopardi, Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman, said Monday.
Contributing: Sarah Taddeo, Democrat & Chronicle; Michael R. Sisak and Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Cuomo faces CNN review after investigating Andrew's accusers