Andrew Cuomo has a ‘preoccupation with his hand size,’ according to one of the women who has accused him of sexual harassment.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, spoke for four hours on Monday to lawyers investigating claims of harassment against the governor.
Debra Katz, Bennett’s lawyer, said: ‘One piece of new information that came to light today was the Governor’s preoccupation with his hand size and what the large size of his hands indicated to Charlotte and other members of his staff.’
His apparent preoccupation echoes that of Donald Trump, who was famously obsessed with the size of his hands.
Seven women have now accused the New York governor of inappropriate behavior, and the state attorney general, Letitia James, has opened an inquiry.
Bennett has hired Katz, a high-profile civil rights and employment lawyer, and Katz on Monday announced that Bennett had spoken to the investigators.
Katz said that Bennett shared with investigators ‘detailed information’ about the ‘sexually hostile’ work environment Cuomo allegedly fostered in the Manhattan and Albany offices.
Charlotte Bennett, 25, spoke to CBS’s Norah O’Donnell on March 4 to detail her allegations
Governor Cuomo (pictured) is facing multiple calls for him to resign
Andrew Cuomo, like Donald Trump, reportedly had an obsession with the size of his hands
She said he created ‘rivalries and tensions among female staffers on whom he bestowed attention.’
Charlotte Bennett told investigators of her encounters with Cuomo in May and June
Cuomo’s office has not commented on the allegation, but has insisted that he never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.
Bennett, a former policy adviser to Cuomo, shared more than 120 pages of contemporaneous records and documents with the investigators.
‘The investigators have been moving quickly, and with sensitivity, to get to the heart of these allegations,’ Katz said in a statement.
‘We remain confident that their investigation will substantiate Charlotte’s claims of sexual harassment against Gov. Cuomo, as well as the failure of his senior staff to meet their mandatory reporting requirements under the very laws he signed.’
The investigation into the sexual harassment allegations is being led by attorneys Joon Kim, a former prosecutor with the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, an employment discrimination attorney.
Cuomo made a public appearance on Long Island on Monday where he took no questions from the media and made no mention of the mounting troubles against him, but instead said he’d soon be getting the vaccine.
On Monday, Cuomo refused to take questions from the media
He was at a mass vaccine site on Long Island and was surrounded by aides. Cuomo gave a pantomime-style welcome the crowd.
Cuomo is due to take part on a call with President Biden and other governors this week. He was appointed as head of the National Governors Association in August 2020.
After first calling the allegations against him ‘troubling’, White Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday hinted that he may soon be stripped of his title within the Governors’ Association, but she also shied away from taking a firm position on the subject, saying instead they would wait the outcome of the attorney general’s investigation.
She however said that the president would not take a side or any form of action until the investigation is complete.
‘Our focus from here, from the federal government is of course supporting that independent investigation, which we adamantly do.’
Cuomo is pictured outside the Governor’s Mansion in Albany with his daughter on Friday
The governor draped a blanket around his shoulders and appeared to be in a downcast mood
Biden called Cuomo the ‘gold standard’ of leadership and thanked him for ‘the example he set for all Americans’
Biden is under intense pressure to distance himself from the embattled governor amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, racism and in some cases, sexual assault.
Cuomo denies all wrongdoing and is refusing to resign. New York Attorney General Letitia James is investing the claims against him.
But the sexual misconduct claims combined with allegations of a cover-up over how many COVID-19 deaths there were in nursing homes is leading many on both sides of the aisle to demand Cuomo’s resignation.
In August last year, Biden tweeted that Cuomo had set an example for ‘all Americans’
The White House is hedging its bets.
On Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that while the allegations against him were ‘troubling’, she wanted to see the outcome of the AG’s investigation.
She previously said the fact the pair have been friends for a long time ‘doesn’t matter’.
In August last year, at the Democratic National Convention, Cuomo gave a ringing endorsement for Biden.
Biden, in return, tweeted: ‘Andrew Cuomo, thank you for your leadership and the example you’ve set for all Americans during this pandemic.’
During an appearance on The Jimmy Fallon Show in April, months earlier, he gushed: ‘Your governor in New York’s done one hell of a job.
Fox News’s Janice Dean was among those calling for Biden to speak out on Cuomo
‘I think he’s the gold standard.’
Cuomo repeatedly batted away calls for him to run for president during the pandemic, when he was hailed as a hero.
He said that his support was firmly behind Joe Biden.
The pair have been friends for years and have formed a close political alliance.
Cuomo traveled to Delaware for Biden’s son Beau’s funeral in 2015, and Biden attended Cuomo’s father Mario’s in the same year.
Now, with mounting criticism of him and allegations against him, the President has come under intense pressure to distance himself from him.
Cuomo and Biden, shown together in 2015, have been friends and political allies for years. They are shown together at a 9/11 Memorial in 2020
Bennett told The New York Times in February that she had several uncomfortable encounters with Cuomo, including one incident in which he asked her questions about her sex life during a conversation in his state Capitol office and said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.
MEMBERS OF THE NY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CALLING FOR CUOMO’S RESIGNATION
Issuing statements Friday:
- Rep. Jerry Nadler
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
- Rep. Jamaal Bowman
- Rep. Mondaire Jones
- Rep. Yvette Clarke
- Rep. Adriano Espaillat
- Rep. Carolyn Maloney
- Rep. Grace Meng
- Rep. Nydia M. Velázques
- Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
- Rep. Antonio Delgado
- Rep. Brian Higgins
- Rep. Paul Tonko
Issued statement last week:
14. Rep. Kathleen Rice
Cuomo denied Bennett’s allegations, saying he ‘never made advances toward Ms Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.’
He added: ‘Women have a right to come forward and be heard. I did not do what has been alleged, period.’
Calls have been mounting for Cuomo to resign.
On Friday both senators for New York, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, called for him to resign, adding their voices to a chorus that includes the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, and high-profile Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Joe Biden on Sunday stopped short of calling for his resignation, however, and said the inquiry should be allowed to reach its own conclusions. Nancy Pelosi, the most senior Democrat in the House, struck a similar tone.
The New York State Democratic Party expressed confidence in the investigation on Monday, with its chairman, Jay S. Jacobs, saying in a statement: ‘These allegations are serious and disturbing and deserve a full and thorough investigation. I have full confidence in the investigation already begun by’ James’ office.
Jacobs also urged Democratic officeholders in the state to continue legislating after a slew of them publicly urged Cuomo to resign in recent days.
‘It is incumbent upon everyone to focus on getting the work of government done,’ he said.
‘Over the next two weeks, the state must complete a budget, ramp up its already extensive vaccination program and tend to the many other responsibilities that require the full attention of state government.’
Bennett, 25, accused Cuomo of propositioning her in his office in June
Anna Ruch (left) and Ana Liss both accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior
Karen Hinton (left), a press aide, and Jessica Bakeman accused Cuomo of inappropriate actions
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide, came out in December with allegations against him – she further detailed her experience in a February post to Medium
A protestor sits outside the New York State Capitol on Friday, demanding Cuomo resign
A group also gathered to protest over the nursing home COVID scandal (pictured)
Bennett has said the powerful three-term governor, who was giving daily televised briefings in the midst of the pandemic and was receiving a rapturous reception, ‘felt like he was untouchable in a lot of ways’ when he ‘propositioned’ her.
She said he asked probing questions such as whether, as a survivor of rape, she was ‘able to enjoy being intimate’ with men.
Bennett worked as a health policy adviser in the New York governor’s administration, hired in the spring of 2019 and swiftly promoted to senior briefer and executive assistant only a few months later.
Bennett had a friendly relationship with Cuomo due to their mutual ties to Westchester County, and saw him as a mentor.
She claimed that, in the spring of 2020, when she moved to Albany, he began quizzing her on her sex life and whether she dated older men.
She told Norah O’Donnell that the first awkward conversation was on May 15.
She revealed that she had been raped, and Cuomo seemed fascinated by her story.
On June 5, she was asked to take a dictation and at the end he asked her to turn off the tape.
‘He asked if I had trouble enjoying being with someone, because of my drama,’ she said.
‘The governor asked if I was sensitive to intimacy.’
Bennett claimed Cuomo, 63, told her he would consider dating ‘anyone above the age of 22’.
She felt it was clear the he was propositioning her.
‘I thought he’s trying to sleep with me.
‘The governor’s trying to sleep with me. And I’m deeply uncomfortable and I have to get out of this room as soon as possible.’
What happens if Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns from office?
If Cuomo resigns Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (pictured) would take over
As of Friday afternoon, 14 out of 19 of New York’s congressional Democrats have called for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
They are joined by all Democrats in the NY State Senate and by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo on Friday refused to accept that he should resign despite the mounting pressure.
If he resigns Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would take over.
She would finish Cuomo’s term until the next scheduled gubernatorial election in 2022.
Hochul is a Democrat who has served since 2015 and was a NY representative for New York’s 26th congressional district from 2011 to 2013.
She backed an investigation into allegations against Cuomo last month.
‘Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and to be taken seriously. I support an independent review,’ she said.
The last time a governor resigned was in early 2008.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer left office after he admitted to having extramarital affairs with sex workers.
When Spitzer stepped down, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson took over until 2010.
Cuomo, then Attorney General, won that election to take over from Paterson.
To date, a lieutenant governor has stepped in to carry out a gubernatorial term in New York on eight occassions, the first one taking place in 1817.
LG Hochul would also take over if Cuomo is impeached.
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie authorized its Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment investigation into Cuomo Thursday.
The last time a NY governor was impeached was in 1913.
The process in New York is very similar to the impeachment procedure in Congress.
A simple majority in the state Assembly is required to impeach a governor.
It then goes to the state impeachment court.
A two-thirds majority of the state Senate and the justices of the New York Court of Appeals would be required to convict Cuomo and remove him from office.
The lieutenant governor takes over as acting governor while the trial plays out.