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Andrew Cuomo was seen getting up close and personal with his newlywed top aide in 2016


New York’s embattled governor Andrew Cuomo‘s women issue may have gotten worse today when pictures emerged of him appearing to get cozy with his closest aide – the woman who admitted his administration had downplayed the number of nursing home COVID deaths – less than two weeks after she got married. 

‘He was quite brazen about it. It was all in public view in a restaurant,’ said an eyewitness who snapped pictures of Andrew Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa as they finished dinner in New York City in 2016. DailyMail.com has now obtained those pictures.

The new photos may pile further pressure on the governor who has been accused of sexual harassment by two women over the past week.

The pictures show Cuomo, now 63, and DeRosa, 38, in the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill in Lower Manhattan on September 8, 2016. DeRosa had married former Cuomo spokesman Matthew Wing just 12 days earlier on August 27.

Photos taken in September 2016 show New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, 63, getting cozy with his closest aide Melissa DeRosa, 38, at dinner

The photos obtained by DailyMail.com show the pair seated closely in a booth with a source saying Cuomo appeared to touch her thigh at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill

The photos obtained by DailyMail.com show the pair seated closely in a booth with a source saying Cuomo appeared to touch her thigh at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill

DeRosa has been a constant presence at Cuomo's side at his numerous press conferences during the coronavirus pandemic and she often travels with him as part of her official role. They're pictured in June 2020

DeRosa has been a constant presence at Cuomo’s side at his numerous press conferences during the coronavirus pandemic and she often travels with him as part of her official role. They’re pictured in June 2020

A witness who snapped the photos told DailyMail.com, that they sat in a booth typically reserved for parties of four or more

A witness who snapped the photos told DailyMail.com, that they sat in a booth typically reserved for parties of four or more

The pictures show DeRosa's brand-new wedding ring as she sits with Cuomo, who is wearing a white shirt and purple tie. She is drinking red wine while he has a cocktail in front of him

The pictures show DeRosa’s brand-new wedding ring as she sits with Cuomo, who is wearing a white shirt and purple tie. She is drinking red wine while he has a cocktail in front of him 

DeRosa and her husband Matthew Wing, who is now Uber's head of communications, live in a co-op in Brooklyn that they bought for $2.2 million a couple of months after their wedding. They met when Wing was a press secretary for Cuomo

DeRosa and her husband Matthew Wing, who is now Uber’s head of communications, live in a co-op in Brooklyn that they bought for $2.2 million a couple of months after their wedding. They met when Wing was a press secretary for Cuomo

At the time Cuomo was in a long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee. They were living together in her sprawling home in Mt. Kisco, New York until they eventually split in 2019. 

Lee was spotted out in Los Angeles over the weekend on a heated phone call. When told about the photos, Sandra Lee told DailyMail.com ‘I have no comment.’

Before Lee, Cuomo had previously been married to Kerry Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy’s seventh child. They divorced in 2005.

The governor and his aide had been dining with another man who left shortly after 8pm, recalls ‘James,’ one of the men who took the pictures. Neither man wants to be publicly identified for fear of retaliation from the famously combative governor.

‘He put his hand under the table and it looked like he was touching her thigh.’ 

DeRosa said in a statement to DailyMail.com, ‘There have been misogynistic rumors in Albany and in government for years but I never thought I’d have to respond to them in the press. The Governor and I have never had an intimate relationship. The Governor and I have been close friends and colleagues for over ten years – we’ve had countless meals together and suggestions or innuendo around that is inappropriate, offensive and wrong.’ 

The pictures show DeRosa with her brand-new wedding ring as she sits with Cuomo, who is wearing a white shirt and purple tie.  

She is drinking red wine while he has some kind of cocktail — possibly a vodka and grapefruit juice — in front of him.

‘He had at least two drinks in the 20 minutes or so that they were alone together,’ said ‘Tom,’ the second of the men.

‘They sat at the back in a cozy booth. Normally those booths are reserved for parties of four or more — but I guess if you are the governor you get to sit where you want.’ 

DeRosa had married former Cuomo spokesman Matthew Wing just 12 days earlier on August 27, 2016. Pictured at their wedding. The couple got married at the swanky Sagamore Hotel which is on an island in upstate Lake George. Cuomo was among the guests as was Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a former schoolmate of DeRosa

DeRosa had married former Cuomo spokesman Matthew Wing just 12 days earlier on August 27, 2016. Pictured at their wedding. The couple got married at the swanky Sagamore Hotel which is on an island in upstate Lake George. Cuomo was among the guests as was Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a former schoolmate of DeRosa

At the time Cuomo of the dinner was in a long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee and they were living together in her sprawling home in Mt. Kisco, New York. They have since broken up

At the time Cuomo of the dinner was in a long-term relationship with celebrity chef Sandra Lee and they were living together in her sprawling home in Mt. Kisco, New York. They have since broken up 

Sandra Lee is seen for the first time since explosive sexual misconduct allegations against Cuomo

Lee was seen out in Los Angeles with a positive message-filled T-shirt while on an intense phone call and conversation with an unidentified friend

Sandra Lee was seen for the first time Sunday since the explosive sexual misconduct allegations came out against Cuomo. Lee was seen out in Los Angeles with a positive message-filled T-shirt while on an intense phone call

The two men say they were having dinner with three friends and arrived at the restaurant around 7.30 for an 8pm reservation. 

‘When we arrived we had a couple of beers at the bar and we noticed a lot of Cuomo’s security detail hanging round having soft drinks.

‘At one stage they came to the table and we thought we had been spotted taking pictures. They spoke to the governor and he carried on as if nothing had happened.’

Cuomo is under intense pressure after two women came forward over the past few days accusing him of sexual harassment. He has initiated an inquiry into the allegations, asking state attorney general Letitia James to pick someone to head the inquiry.

President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York’s two Senators, Chuck Schuer and Kirsten Gillibrand as well as New York Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jerrold Nadler were among Democrats who called on Cuomo to initiate the inquiry.

The first woman to come forward with her allegations was Lindsey Boylan, a former state economic development officer. She claimed on Wednesday Cuomo had harassed her several times between 2016 and 2018, at one time planting an unwanted kiss on her lips in his Manhattan office, and on another occasion asking her to play strip poker on his taxpayer-funded jet as they flew back from a meeting in western New York.

Boylan, 36, said Cuomo ‘has created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected.

‘His inappropriate behavior toward women was an affirmation that he liked you, that you must be doing something right, she wrote on Medium.com.

‘He used intimidation to silence his critics. And if you dared to speak up, you would face consequences.’ 

An eyewitness who snapped the photos tell DailyMail.com: '[Cuomo] was quite brazen about it. It was all in public view in a restaurant'

An eyewitness who snapped the photos tell DailyMail.com: ‘[Cuomo] was quite brazen about it. It was all in public view in a restaurant’

The two witnesses they were having dinner with three friends and arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 for an 8pm reservation. 'When we arrived we had a couple of beers at the bar and we noticed a lot of Cuomo's security detail hanging round having soft drinks'

 The two witnesses they were having dinner with three friends and arrived at the restaurant around 7:30 for an 8pm reservation. ‘When we arrived we had a couple of beers at the bar and we noticed a lot of Cuomo’s security detail hanging round having soft drinks’

The witnesses said 'At one stage [Cuomo's security detail] came to the table and we thought we had been spotted taking pictures. They spoke to the governor and he carried on as if nothing had happened'

The witnesses said ‘At one stage [Cuomo’s security detail] came to the table and we thought we had been spotted taking pictures. They spoke to the governor and he carried on as if nothing had happened’

Then on Saturday Charlotte Bennett, 25, claimed she was in Cuomo’s office in Albany, on June 5 last year, when he asked her if she thought age made a difference in relationships and said he was open to having affairs with women in their 20s.

She also said that he had told her of his loneliness during the pandemic saying he ‘can’t even hug anyone.’

‘I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,’ said Bennett, who was an executive assistant and health policy advisor in the Cuomo administration before she quit in November.

‘I was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.’

In a statement, Cuomo initially said: ‘I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.’ He also said he was trying to be a ‘mentor’ to her.

Cuomo’s problems deepened on Monday when video of him urging reporter Beth Cefalu to ‘eat the whole sausage’ at the 2016 New York State Fair emerged. Cefalu said she found nothing inappropriate about his remark although others have called it ‘creepy’ and ‘cringey.’

But as Cuomo’s personal political crisis grew he apologized and accepted that his remarks ‘may have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.’

‘I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.’ 

These new photos may pile further pressure on the governor who has been accused of sexual harassment by two women over the past week

These new photos may pile further pressure on the governor who has been accused of sexual harassment by two women over the past week

One of the witnesses noted that Cuomo had at least two drinks in the 20 minutes or so that the pair were alone together. The pair had initially been dining with another man who left shortly after 8pm

One of the witnesses noted that Cuomo had at least two drinks in the 20 minutes or so that the pair were alone together. The pair had initially been dining with another man who left shortly after 8pm

'They sat at the back in a cozy booth. Normally those booths are reserved for parties of four or more — but I guess if you are the governor you get to sit where you want,' a witness said

‘They sat at the back in a cozy booth. Normally those booths are reserved for parties of four or more — but I guess if you are the governor you get to sit where you want,’ a witness said 

He asked the public to reserve judgment on the allegations until the inquiry is complete.

If he were to step down from his post which he has held for more than a decade, lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul would take over. 

DeRosa’s official title is secretary to the governor. Cuomo hired her in 2013 and promoted her to her current position four years later. She had previously been acting chief of staff for former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman — who resigned in 2018 after four women accused him of physically assaulting them during sex.

She has been a constant presence at Cuomo’s side at his numerous press conferences during the coronavirus pandemic and she often travels with him as part of her official role.

Last month, she privately apologized to Democratic state lawmakers for underreporting the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID-19 because Cuomo’s administration feared they would ‘be used against us’ by federal prosecutors after former President Donald Trump had attacked him.’

‘Basically we froze,’ DeRosa said. Her remarks were leaked to The New York Post. 

Charlotte Bennett, 25, accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in his Albany office, including quizzing her about dating older men

Lindsey Boylan accused him of attempting to kiss her on the mouth in 2018

Charlotte Bennett (left), 25, accused Cuomo of sexually harassing her during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in his Albany office, including quizzing her about dating older men. Lindsey Boylan (right) accused him of attempting to kiss her on the mouth in 2018

DeRosa earns $207,323 a year. At one point her salary was higher than Cuomo's but he has since had a pay raise

DeRosa earns $207,323 a year. At one point her salary was higher than Cuomo’s but he has since had a pay raise

DeRosa's official title is secretary to the governor. Cuomo hired her in 2013 and promoted her to her current position four years later. She had previously been acting chief of staff for former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman — who resigned in 2018 after four women accused him of physically assaulting them during sex

DeRosa’s official title is secretary to the governor. Cuomo hired her in 2013 and promoted her to her current position four years later. She had previously been acting chief of staff for former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman — who resigned in 2018 after four women accused him of physically assaulting them during sex

Last year the New York Times called DeRosa ‘the most powerful appointed official in the state.’

‘If you’re an Albany lawmaker and you get a call from Melissa DeRosa, you’re essentially getting a call from the governor,’ Cuomo’s former re-election campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith told the paper.

‘She is by no means a ”yes” woman. And, as you may imagine, [Cuomo] does not relish hearing no. But he trusts her and values the fact that she’s a straight shooter.’

DeRosa earns $207,323 a year. At one point her salary was higher than Cuomo’s but he has since had a pay raise.

She has faced her own experiences of sexual harassment. She told the Poughkeepsie Journal that while working as a lobbyist, she was on a conference call with her boss and a client who she said was a national figure in progressive politics. 

‘My boss said, ”Melissa will be taking the lead on the project,” and [the politician] said, ”Why doesn’t she take the lead right up to my hotel room?”’ DeRosa said.

Cuomo is seen presenting his Covid-19 Mountain during his coronavirus briefings. DeRosa admitted to underreporting the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID-19 because Cuomo's administration feared they would 'be used against us' by federal prosecutors after former President Donald Trump had attacked him'

Cuomo is seen presenting his Covid-19 Mountain during his coronavirus briefings. DeRosa admitted to underreporting the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID-19 because Cuomo’s administration feared they would ‘be used against us’ by federal prosecutors after former President Donald Trump had attacked him’

DeRosa dropped Cuomo in hot water last month when she admitted his administration had deliberately underreported the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID

DeRosa dropped Cuomo in hot water last month when she admitted his administration had deliberately underreported the number of nursing home residents who had died of COVID

‘I remember just thinking to myself what do people think about me when they look at me? Is this how people see me?’ she told the paper. ‘How many things do I need to accomplish and how many years do I have to work and how many titles do I have to hold before they will look at me the same way that they would look at a man in this position with the same level of respect and treat me the same way?’

She and her husband, who is now Uber’s head of communications, live in a co-op in Brooklyn that they bought for $2.2 million a couple of months after their wedding. They met when Wing was a press secretary for Cuomo.

They got married at the swanky Sagamore Hotel which is on an island in upstate Lake George. Cuomo was among the guests as was Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a former schoolmate of DeRosa.

Stefanik has now called for the criminal prosecution of both Cuomo and DeRosa for covering up the nursing home COVID deaths. ‘This is more than a nursing home scandal, this is a massive corruption and coverup scandal at the highest level of New York State Government implicating the Governor, the Secretary to the Governor, the New York State Health Commissioner and the Governor’s staff,’ Stefanik tweeted on February 11.

At the weekend Stefanik called on Cuomo to resign because of the growing sexual harassment scandal. She called Charlotte Bennett’s accusation against the governor ‘so horrific it makes your skin crawl.’



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