The office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday released a transcript of investigators’ interview with former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with other documents and exhibits, from its investigation into the sexual harassment allegations that ultimately led to his resignation.
The documents included in the release were the basis for the August report that found Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. A week after its August release, Cuomo — though denying any wrongdoing — announced he would step down after a decade in office.
Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, has repeatedly called for the transcripts and other evidence collected by the attorney general’s investigators to be made public. The former governor has, before and after announcing he would resign, described the probe — which he referred to James’ office — as politically motivated, a charge he has ramped up since James, who was long rumored to run, entered next year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary.
In his exchanges with investigators, Cuomo often struck a defiant tone. He rejected the allegations against him and argued in at least one case about the framing of a question, leading to a tense exchange over the definition of “girlfriend.” In all, the transcript of his 11-hour testimony from earlier this year goes on for 515 pages.
After being sworn in by Joon Kim, one of the independent investigators hired by James to conduct the probe, Cuomo was asked if he understood his rights — specifically, that he was not required to respond to questions if he believed they might be incriminating in a future criminal case. (The attorney general’s investigation was a civil matter.)
“I’m a former attorney general. I’m aware of the attorney general’s power,” Cuomo replied. “I’m aware of the special prosecutor power, independent investigator power, and I understand there may be subsequent investigations to this investigation, yes.”
Later on, Cuomo was asked whether he had compared the appearance of one of his accusers, Lindsey Boylan, to that of an ex-girlfriend. Cuomo recalled stating that Boylan looked like a “clone” of another woman he knew, but — in his denial — began a lengthy and, at times, absurd back-and-forth over the definition of “girlfriend.”
One of the investigators who carried out the questioning, Anne Clark, pressed Cuomo on whether the woman he said looked like Boylan, Lisa Shields, was ever his girlfriend.
“Was she my girlfriend,” Cuomo said, “meaning?”
When Clark asked Cuomo if he understood “what a girlfriend is,” the former governor replied, “Well, girlfriend means different things to difference people.”
Pressed twice on what it meant to him, Cuomo demurred again.
“It doesn’t matter what it means to me,” he said. “It matters what you want to know.”
James’ office, in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s release, said that “multiple district attorneys” had previously requested the attorney general “refrain from publicly releasing transcripts and other evidence so that their offices could first investigate and determine whether to file criminal charges against Cuomo.”
But that changed, the attorney general’s office said, following the filing of a civil complaint against Cuomo on October 28 by the Albany County sheriff. The fate of that case is currently in flux after the district attorney described the complaint as “potentially defective” and asked the court in Albany to delay the process by 60 days.
“As these materials are now being released by the Albany County District Attorney’s office — and in an effort to provide full transparency to the people of New York — the OAG has informed local district attorneys that it will immediately begin releasing, on a rolling basis, all transcripts and corresponding exhibits compiled during the investigation, pending redactions to protect the privacy of individuals, as appropriate,” James’ office said.
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