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Cuomo's troubles deepen as N.Y. attorney general seeks subpoena power in sex harassment probe

Governor admits some behavior with women was "insensitive or too personal" as he yields control of probe to Letitia James.

Updated: February 28, 2021 - 11:53pm

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After a rollercoaster weekend of reversals, recriminations and apologies, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's legal troubles are deepening as New York's top law enforcement officer prepares to secure subpoena powers to investigate allegations of sexual harassment.

Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, announced Sunday night she will deputize an outside law firm to investigate the allegations by two former Cuomo aides after the governor's effort to fashion his own investigation led by a former federal judge backfired.

"We expect to receive a referral with subpoena power to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, in line with our demands and New York state law," James said in a statement released on Twitter. "The referral would be made solely to the attorney general's office.

"We will hire a law firm, deputize them as attorneys of our office, and oversee a rigorous and independent investigation." 

The announcement came just hours after Cuomo, facing dual scandals involving sexual harassment and COVID-19-related nursing home deaths, issued an apology and conceded his behavior with some female aides may have been improper or made the women feel uncomfortable.

"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," he said. "I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that."

Cuomo insisted, however, he had never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone.

The apology came as calls for an independent investigation mounted within his own Democratic Party, both locally and nationally.

"The women who have come forward with serious and credible charges against Governor Cuomo deserve to be heard and to be treated with dignity," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Fox News, signaling the fallout from Cuomo's scandals had stretched beyond Albany to Washington. "The independent investigation must have due process and respect for everyone involved."

You can read James' full statement here.