Cuomo lawyer wants independent review of sex harassment probe, calls AG James biased

·4 min read

ALBANY, N.Y. — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s personal attorney wants new eyes on the sexual harassment allegations and investigation that ended his political career.

Lawyer Rita Glavin unveiled a “formal submission” and complained Wednesday that her client was “ambushed” by Attorney General Letitia James during a virtual press conference live streamed from the disgraced Democrat’s campaign website.

The 150-page document accuses James of political bias and improperly interfering with the independent investigation and subsequent report issued by her office that detailed multiple sexual harassment claims against Cuomo. The damning report, coupled with a potential impeachment, prompted Cuomo to resign in August.

“This man’s reputation was destroyed on Aug. 3 in one of the most prejudicial and unprecedented press conferences I have ever seen in my career,” Glavin said as she called for an independent review of the probe. “What happened is there was no independence, it was an ambush.”

Glavin again accused the attorney general of gunning for Cuomo’s job and pointed to James’ name appearing on the cover of the report, issued by her own office, as evidence that she wrongfully inserted herself into the probe.

The report followed a five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who concluded that, in addition to the harassment claims, the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” that was “rife with fear and intimidation.”

“The August 3rd report is materially misleading, it is flawed, and it is unreliable,” Glavin said. “It misled the public.”

Glavin has made near weekly public appearances attempting to discredit Cuomo’s accusers and railing against James and the lawyers chosen to run the investigation. Cuomo maintains he did nothing wrong.

Cuomo’s legal team has also accused the AG’s office of refusing to provide evidence and transcripts of interviews to back up claims in the report, making it difficult to respond to the allegations.

Glavin on Wednesday directed much of her fire directly at James, repeating her belief that comments the attorney general made in September prove the state’s top prosecutor had a personal hand in the investigation, which was meant to be conducted independently.

“When they came into my office, and they told me about the fact that Albany was toxic . . . how they were harassed. . . I believed them, because they were specific,” James said at an Ulster County Democratic Committee dinner last month in reference to Cuomo’s accusers.

Cuomo’s attorney said James’ gubernatorial aspirations were enough of a “motive to draw every possible inference against the governor, who was a political rival and who planned to run for a fourth term.”

Glavin also assailed state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for asking James’ office to probe whether Cuomo misused state resources when writing and promoting his pandemic-themed book last year. That referral has sparked a criminal investigation.

It’s unclear who Glavin and Cuomo believe should be tasked with reviewing the attorney general’s probe or what that process would look like, but the hefty “application” released Wednesday demands that the attorney general “amend, correct and supplement” the initial report.

Cuomo’s future plans also remain a mystery as Glavin said she does not know if he is plotting a political comeback or is eyeing a run for his old post next year.

James office brushed off the attacks and a spokesman said the attorney general was taken aback by the former governor’s attempt to “stifle a legal criminal investigation” into his $5 million book deal.

“Another day, another baseless attack by the former governor who resigned so he didn’t have to participate in an impeachment hearing,” James spokesman Fabien Levy said.

The latest press conference comes as the Assembly readies to release the results of its aborted impeachment probe, which is expected to back many of the allegations outlined in James’ report.

Lawmakers cut their work short when Cuomo resigned, but the soon-to-be-released summary is expected to touch on several other scandals that had engulfed the administration including allegations that family and associates of the governor received preferential treatment for COVID testing as well as issues related to the former governor’s $5.1 million pandemic-themed book.

Asked about local district attorneys who are looking into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, including a staffer who says he groped her at the Executive Mansion in Albany and a female state trooper who detailed several instances of inappropriate conduct, Glavin said she is “very confident that the governor committed no crime.”

James’ office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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