Three New York district attorneys’ offices are urging the state attorney general’s office either to delay or withhold from publicly releasing transcripts and other materials from its investigation that found former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, concerned that doing so now may “hinder” their ongoing criminal investigations, according to documents obtained by CNN.
“While I respect the right of the public to have access to the same materials, I fear that making them available at this time could compromise our investigation,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares wrote in a letter dated Monday and sent to New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office.
Soares requested that the materials from James’ civil investigation, concluded earlier this month, not be publicly released until his office has had “an opportunity to thoroughly review them and to conduct our own interviews.”
In an emailed request to James’ office to withhold the transcripts, Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes said he is “still exploring whether it is possible to file criminal charges regarding the alleged conduct” and “concerned that the public release of additional information may hinder or impair any potential prosecution.” Oakes did not specify a timeline in his letter for when his office’s inquiry would be complete.
The head of Nassau County’s Special Victims Bureau also warned that disclosing the transcripts of witness depositions “at this stage” leaves the district attorney’s offices in a position to learn the details of the statements at the same time as the public — “which has the potential to jeopardize the ongoing criminal investigation.”
“In order to protect the integrity of our investigation and potential prosecution, we ask that the OAG refrain from publicly posting the transcripts,” Nassau County’s Amanda Burke argued.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office told CNN in a statement, “As we have said from the beginning, we will cooperate, as appropriate, with other law enforcement agencies conducting criminal investigations into the former governor’s conduct.”
CNN obtained the documents from the three district attorney’s offices through Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests. The state’s FOIL request system still shows requests for transcripts of interviews by Cuomo and others as “in progress.”
James’ office released a lengthy report on August 3 that detailed the allegations of 11 women, current and former state employees, and found that Cuomo engaged in “unwelcome and nonconsensual touching,” among other allegations.
Shortly after the report’s findings were released, the three district attorneys were among several who requested investigative materials from James’ office, saying they need the materials to determine whether incidents that occurred in their jurisdictions amount to criminal actions.
Cuomo has denied the allegations, including in his interview with state investigators, saying he did not touch anyone inappropriately.
A week after the report’s release, Cuomo announced his plans to resign on August 10. He had been facing pressure to step down from those in his own party, a potential impeachment investigation by New York’s Democratic-led legislature, and potential criminal charges. Cuomo left office this week.
Brittany Commisso, an assistant to Cuomo when he was governor, filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo with the Albany Sheriff’s Office earlier this month.
Commisso had been referred to in the state attorney general’s report as “Executive Assistant 1” before publicly identifying herself.
According to the report, Commisso told investigators that Cuomo grabbed her buttocks during hugs and a photo.
In one of the more serious allegations in the report, she also accused Cuomo of reaching under her blouse and grabbing her breast while she was at the governor’s mansion last year.
Cuomo denied the allegations and told investigators of the alleged incident at the governor’s mansion, “I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing.”
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