In a late Friday afternoon news conference, lawyers representing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Executive Chamber criticized how the state Attorney General’s office handled the release of a 165-page report that supported the sexual harassment claims against him.
In addition, Rita Glavin, the lawyer personally representing Cuomo, told reporters that the five-month-long investigation was choreographed to support “a predetermined narrative” against the embattled three-term governor. He now faces louder calls for his resignation and a greater threat of impeachment as state lawmakers have requested materials from the investigation for their own review.
“I know the difference between putting a case together against a target versus doing independent fact-finding with an open mind,” said Glavin, a former federal attorney. “And there has been no open-minded fact-finding in this case.”
Glavin also singled out two of the 11 women who came forward with allegations against the governor, including Lindsey Boylan, the first to allege harassment with statements online in December and February.
Boylan, Glavin said, did not leave the administration because of a toxic work environment. Instead, she voluntarily resigned after being confronted with complaints against her in the administration. A few days later, she sought to get her position back but was rebuffed.
The report released on Tuesday found that after Boylan posted a tweet late last year calling Cuomo an abuser, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa sought a copy of Boylan’s file. Days later, after Boylan tweeted that Cuomo harassed her, that file was sent to select reporters along with a statement dismissing her claims as having no truth.
A half-hour after Friday’s news conference ended, Boylan took to Twitter again, posting: “We will not be intimidated.”
Glavin also sought to poke holes in the case of an unnamed assistant who claimed Cuomo groped her in the Executive Mansion. The governor’s attorney said the timeline the woman gave the Albany Times-Union in her account did not mesh with state records.
For starters, Glavin said that instead of being hastily called to fix Cuomo’s phone, she was actually there for several hours on the date in question last November.
The assistant claimed Cuomo went under her blouse and grabbed her breast as they took a selfie. The report stated the assistant was not planning to come forward until she heard the governor months later deny ever inappropriately touching anyone.
Earlier Friday, the New York Post reported that the assistant filed a complaint against Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff. Sheriff Craig Apple told the newspaper that the governor could be arrested based on his office’s investigation.
While the assistant claimed she was shaking during and after the encounter, Glavin said other information refutes that.
“She wasn't just working with the governor. She was working with other staffers,” Glavin said. “Emails that she sent while she was at the mansion reflect that she was joking while she was there. She was eating snacks, and she even offered to stay longer at the mansion when her work was done.”
Glavin’s comments were met with criticism on social media as the conference continued.
“Cuomo’s legal team chooses the gutter route and continues to smear the victims,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-New York.
Paul Fishman, an attorney representing the chamber, said his role was to ensure investigators had access to the thousands of files and documents they requested. He and fellow attorney Mitra Hormozi also represented chamber employees who did not have other legal representation and to ensure the chamber and workers received fair treatment.
He told reporters that weeks ago the chamber’s counsel asked the Attorney General’s Office for a draft of the report so they could review and determine if it included any inaccuracies. That request was denied, and no one saw the report until James released it Tuesday morning.
After the report was released, James released another statement saying the state Assembly, which may consider voting to impeach Cuomo, requested all relevant evidence for their review.
Fishman added that in the three days since the release, he was not aware of any lawyers who have a copy of their client’s testimony. It’s an issue because those who testified have not had the chance to review the record and ensure it’s accurate.
“It's also a particular problem for this governor and the chamber as we respond to that report,” he said. “Because, as you can imagine, as lawyers, what we like to do, what we need to do, what we're entitled to do on behalf of our client is to see the evidence so that we can properly respond to it. But right now, we can’t.”
On Friday, in response to the lawyers’ news conference, a spokesperson for James said in a statement that lawmakers will have access to a “rolling production of interview transcripts,” and those will be redacted as necessary.
Fabien Levy also criticized efforts to question any accuser’s credibility as their claims have been substantiated by “a mountain of evidence.” Levy also noted that the governor personally requested James to oversee the investigation conducted by outside lawyers Joon Kim and Anne Clark.
“The independent investigators selected are widely respected professionals, recognized for their legal and investigatory ability,” Levy said. “To attack this investigation and attempt to undermine and politicize this process takes away from the bravery displayed by these women.”