ALBANY – A trio of lawyers representing Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Executive Chamber have sought to dig holes in the sexual harassment findings detailed in a Tuesday report by Attorney General Tish James – as well as the motives behind the investigation.
Chamber attorneys Paul Fishman and Mitra Hormozi, along with Cuomo’s personal lawyer Rita Glavin, have attempted to present a systematic and critical review of the allegations in the 168-page report, which they say raise questions. on the credibility of the conclusions of the GA.
They further demanded that James’s office “release the transcripts” and all other evidence gathered throughout the investigation to them and the public at a virtual afternoon press conference punctuated by dialogues in. mute and other technical difficulties.
Arguments on behalf of the governor echoed defenses he and his aides had voiced in the hours after the report and even before it was released, but lawyers stressed that the report itself did not include their versions of events. . Cuomo, his staff and lawyers should have been allowed to read a draft before it was published in order to challenge its framing and prepare counter-arguments, they argued.
“It was one-sided and he was ambushed,” Glavin said.
Glavin, of Glavin PLLC, argued that the AG’s investigation, which was led by investigators Joon Kim and Anne Clark, “was conducted to support a predetermined narrative” and “left material behind.” If the findings are upheld by the Assembly, which is conducting its own wide-ranging inquiry into the governor and his administration, she warned it would set an “irresponsible and new standard of impeachment.”
Fishman – the former US attorney for New Jersey, now with Arnold and Porter LLC – echoed the governor’s suggestion that Kim was not “the independent investigator the attorney general promised she would appoint in this. case ”. Glavin said investigators “acted as prosecutors, judge and jury.”
A source familiar with the case told POLITICO that the attorney general’s office did not share the transcripts of the investigation with anyone.
The AG’s office rejected the lawyers’ claims that the investigation was biased.
“After several women brought charges that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed them, the governor himself requested that Attorney General James oversee an independent investigation,” said Fabien Levy, spokesman for James. “The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals recognized for their legal and legal skills. investigative capacity. Attacking this investigation and attempting to undermine and politicize this process takes away the courage that these women display. “
Levy added that interview transcripts will be produced as the Assembly continues its impeachment inquiry.
Glavin took issue with the account of Executive Assistant No.1, the anonymous woman included in the James report who accused the governor of groping her in the governor’s mansion, by presenting a timeline of events that Glavin says took brought to light inconsistencies in the account of the incident by the assistant. the union of time. Glavin called the staff member someone the governor “doesn’t really know.”
The schedule presented by Cuomo’s legal team was based on the events of November 16, and Glavin said there was no record of the woman visiting the residence again this month. However, the assistant maintained that she does not remember the exact date of the incident.
The woman filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, and Glavin called her account “perhaps the most significant allegation against the governor.”
Lawyers briefly addressed a detailed account of harassment that emerged in the report of a female state soldier who was added to Cuomo’s protection details, at the governor’s request, after meeting her during an event.
The report revealed that she was added to the unit despite not having reached the minimum number of years of service generally required to be part of the unit. Cuomo then made regular comments and inappropriate physical interactions that made her uncomfortable and differed from her treatment of her male colleagues, the soldier said.
Glavin said Cuomo would address the Soldier’s account himself – he did not do so in his initial prerecorded response on Tuesday – and although she does not have a timeline for when he could make an appearance, she said, “I know he wants to do it soon.
She noted that, as Cuomo told investigators during his testimony, he asked the female soldier to join his detachment to improve the “diversity” of his protection unit, which was made up mostly of male soldiers. .
The GA’s office criticized the attempt to discredit the accounts of Cuomo’s accusers.
“There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence,” Levy said. “Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate.”
The press conference came a day after Fishman attacked James’ conclusion that Cuomo and his staff “took inadmissible retaliation” against the first woman to accuse him of sexual harassment. He also released a July legal note that lawyers sent to investigators, saying such a ruling would be based on “a misunderstanding of the facts and poor application of the law.”
Cuomo’s office has until Aug. 13 to submit its arguments or any additional evidence to the Assembly Judiciary Committee as the chamber wraps up its parallel investigation to consider his impeachment.
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay issued a scathing response following the press conference.
“The governor (…) has now sent his lawyers to publicly discredit his accusers and undermine prosecutor general investigators,” said the member of the Republican Assembly. “It would be shocking elsewhere, but that’s the unfortunate standard operating procedure for the Cuomo administration. The governor is in complete free fall. Today’s desperate attempt to offer more explanation and apology will do not change his mind, nor change the course that ends with his dismissal.