Andrew Cuomo asked one of his accusers to help him find a girlfriend then rejected her suggestion of Chelsea Handler because he thought the comedian was ‘crazy’.
The governor of New York told Charlotte Bennett that he was ‘lonely’ because his ex-girlfriend Sandra Lee was not replying to him as he spilled his heart out to the 25-year-old staffer.
But the governor said no to Bennett’s suggestion he date Handler because she was ‘nuts’, the New York state Attorney General report into his sexual misconduct reveals.
Cuomo also said no to Bennett’s suggestion that he date Jada Pinkett Smith because she is married.
Appendices to the report reveal a trove of texts, emails among Cuomo staffers and notes from interviews with his accusers which shed new light on the claims.
They reveal that Cuomo, 63, asked Bennett to memorize the lyrics to the song Danny Boy and once sang the 1950s hit ‘Do You Love Me’ down the phone to her.
The notes where Charlotte Bennet describes advising him to date Chelsea Handler or Jada Pinkett Smith but he says Handler is ‘nuts’
The emails from Cuomo’s team show that they downplayed the allegations, with one saying that Cuomo, who is Italian American, trying to kiss a young woman at a wedding ‘isn’t even a thing – (it) sounds like every Italian grandad at a wedding’.
Charlotte Bennett made notes about her experience working with Cuomo which she gave to investigators
The devastating report revealed that Cuomo, a prominent Democrat once tipped for the presidency, sexually harassed at least 11 women including a state trooper assigned to protect him.
The third term governor, who Joe Biden considered to be his Attorney General, created a ‘hostile and toxic work environment’ which enabled his ‘deeply disturbing’ pattern of conduct which included unwanted kissing, groping and suggestive comments.
The appendices to the report appear to include notes taken by investigators interviewing Bennett.
They show that on June 5 last year Bennett had a discussion with Cuomo where they began talking about relationships.
The notes state that Cuomo ‘brought up his ex – he said Sandy (Sandra Lee) was not talking to him’ – the couple had ended their eight-year relationship in 2019.
Cuomo said he was ‘lonely, that he was not sleeping well, he was looking for a girlfriend’.
Cuomo told Bennett she was ‘in charge of finding him a girlfriend’.
At the time Cuomo was winning national plaudits for his handling of the pandemic and his daily press conferences which would later win him an Emmy.
But according to the notes, Bennett recalled that Cuomo ‘wants to get drunk and get on his motorbike and take a woman into the mountains and forget about the pandemic for a few hours’.
When the conversation returned to finding the governor a girlfriend, Bennett ‘didn’t know what to say’ so she suggested Jada Pinkett Smith and Chelsea Handler.
The notes say: ‘He said CH (Handler) was crazy’.
The report includes photos of Cuomo with women – some whose faces were muzzed, some whose weren’t – as proof of how tactile he is
More photos of Cuomo with women at his events, with his hands over their waists. His team says he is tactile with everyone
The appendices include text messages between Charlotte Bennett and another aide, and conversations she had with her parents where she had she had a ‘great conversation’ with the ‘Governor’, and others where she says he made her feel uncomfortable.
Those include text messages between Charlotte Bennett and another aide, and conversations she had with her parents where she had she had a ‘great conversation’ with the ‘Governor’, and others where she says he made her feel uncomfortable.
Another section of notes says that Cuomo dismissed the two women because ‘Jada is married and Chelsea is nuts’.
Ironically Handler, 46, has said she had a crush on Cuomo but that it ended when he was accused of sexual misconduct.
Handler has said ‘in the pandemic, I was very turned on by his morning news conferences, as many of us were’.
They had a ‘couple of conversations’ but Cuomo never followed through on Handler’s offer to go for a drink when he was in New York.
Pinkett Smith, 49, who is married to actor Will Smith, has admitted that Cuomo was her ‘celebrity crush’ and last year said that she ‘doesn’t miss a press conference’ about the pandemic, though her feelings appear to have gone nowhere.
The notes from the Cuomo report reveal that his conversation with Bennett took a darker tone when the governor said that the only criteria for a prospective girlfriend was that they should be over 22 years of age.
At that point Bennett realized that Cuomo was ‘grooming’ her and became extremely uneasy.
Chris – a reference to the Governor’s brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo – ‘wants to make sure we have enough contrition in there’, said PR exec Lis Smith
In a December 2020 Op-ed, Melissa DeRosa, one of his senior aides, talks about an op-ed he wanted to write about one of the accusers and said the team was ‘fighting for their lives’
PR adviser Lis Smith says in March 2021 that Cuomo’s behavior was that of ‘every Italian granddad at a wedding’
After being asked for a comment by a New York Times journalist, Melissa DeRosa asked if they could say that Cuomo ‘hugged and kissed men and women alike for the last 40 years’. She was shot down by others in the team
One of Cuomo’s advisers sent this tweet by one of the accuser to a journalist from 2018 to try to discredit the allegations
What next for Cuomo?
It looks like checkmate for Andrew Cuomo as pressure grows on him to step down despite his desperate attempts to cling on to power.
Senior Democrats including President Joe Biden are pushing for Cuomo to resign, with some looking to impeach the embattled politician.
New York state assembly speaker Carl Heastie, who launched an impeachment inquiry in March, said Cuomo has ‘lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority’ and ‘can no longer remain in office’, according to CNN.
If Cuomo tries to cling on to power rather than step down, he will likely face an impeachment probe.
Impeachment would be carried out by the New York state assembly which is made up of 150 lawmakers.
Only a majority of votes is needed for impeachment for ‘misconduct of malversation’, according to the state constitution.
The assembly’s makeup is overwhelmingly Democrat, with 106 out of 150 seats, and a majority of 76 votes needed for impeachment.
If impeached, Cuomo would be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
A trial would then be held by the New York senate where Democrats hold 43 of 63 seats and a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.
If convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office, but if he is found not guilty, he could return to being governor.
An impeachment probe launched in March is still ongoing and are meeting to decide whether to proceed or draft articles in other areas of Cuomo’s leadership relating to the nursing homes Covid scandal, cover-up allegations over the Mario Cuomo Bridge, and claims of using state resources for personal gain.
So far, Cuomo has insisted he has done nothing wrong and has made no moves to step down as he tries to cling on to power.
The report contains a transcript of an October 4, 2019 phone call between Cuomo and Bennett in which he calls her ‘hun’ and sings to her.
Cuomo sings: ‘Are you reaaaaaady? do do do do do do do do’.
When Bennett says she doesn’t know the song, Cuomo says it is ‘before her time’.
Cuomo sings: ‘Do you love me, do you really love me? Do you love me, do you care?’
Cuomo says that the song is ‘like a 50’s, it’s before even my time’
The investigators behind the report have said that they found the accusers ‘credible’ and released dozens of Bennett’s contemporaneous texts messages sent by Bennett to back up her claims,
In one exchange with what appears to be a friend, Bennett writes that she is ‘GOING TO BURST INTO TEARS’ after an apparent incident with Cuomo.
Other messages show Bennett’s response to Cuomo’s statement following similar allegations by Lindsey Boylan.
Bennett appears to write that it ‘left me with a pit in my stomach’ and Cuomo’s statement was ‘gross’ and left her ‘SO mad’.
She writes: ‘You creep…it’s such b*******’
In other messages which appear to be to another Cuomo staffer Bennett writes: ‘He only spoke to me twice today and both times it was to tell me he didn’t like how I did my hair’.
Another section of the report deals with the fallout from the allegations made by Anna Ruch, who claimed that Cuomo kissed her against her will on her cheek at a wedding in 2019.
Cuomo PR adviser Lis Smith says in an email that ‘in front of dozens of people and with cameras around? At a wedding? This doesn’t pass the smell test’
In a follow up email Smith says: ‘This also isn’t even a thing – sounds like every Italian grandad at a wedding’.
As Cuomo’s team scrambled to respond to the mounting allegations, they circulated a statement put out by Joe Biden’s team in response to allegations of sexual assault by Tara Reade.
They also tried to get together a letter signed by dozens of women who had worked with Cuomo saying he had been a good boss but appeared to struggle to get enough people to sign on.