Cuomo attorney demands AG’s recusal in future probe

Mike Groll/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo/TNS Former New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose lawyer continues to castigate the state Attorney General for her probe into allegations of Cuomo misconduct while in office.

Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attorney demanded state Attorney General Letitia James recuse herself from future decisions related to the former governor’s sexual harassment investigation and related evidence on the heels of the release of the transcripts of witness interviews last week and James’s gubernatorial bid.

One of Cuomo’s counsel, Rita Glavin of Glavin PLLC, sent a letter to James’s office Thursday demanding the attorney general recuse her office from additional ongoing investigations into the former governor’s potential use of state resources to publish his pandemic memoir last October, for which he received $5.1 million.

“[Cuomo] did not want the attorney general or her office to be involved in the investigation of him because he knew she was running for governor and she refused to disavow that she would run for governor,” Glavin said during a virtual press conference Thursday afternoon where she spoke for more than a half-hour.

Glavin’s press conference, where she fielded questions from several reporters, came as members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee were expected Thursday and Friday to review the report by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, the chamber’s outside counsel hired to investigate multiple scandals into former Gov. Cuomo, according to a statement from Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles D. Lavine.

Glavin declined to talk about specifics of the committee’s investigation, or what information the attorneys have requested.

“The investigation included interviews with 165 witnesses, along with the review of hundreds of thousands of documents, recordings, messages, memos, transcripts and other materials,” Lavine said.

James officially announced her candidacy Oct. 29 for the 2022 gubernatorial race against Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo’s attorneys have continued to push back against James’s office’s 168-page report released Aug. 3 that concludes Cuomo sexually harassed or engaged in sexual misconduct with at least 11 women, including nine current and former state staffers.

Glavin on Thursday denounced James’s office’s decision to publicly release thousands of pages of transcripts of interviews with Cuomo and his 11 accusers collected over the five-month investigation this spring and summer.

“There’s no doubt that that report, which was irreparably damaging to the governor, was materially misleading or flawed because of material omissions and errors about the facts, the evidence of local law and the manner in which the investigation was created,” Glavin said.

The transcripts and redactions were updated after their initial release last week, which Glavin criticized as suspicious and inconsistent.

“There were very minimal changes, for example, a name that was missed, but nothing substantial,” a representative with James’s office said in a statement Thursday.

Certain pages within the transcripts were redacted in accordance with a redaction policy posted on the attorney general’s website with the now-public documents.

The names of certain people, including complainants, whose identities have not been made public, private information such as addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses and certain sensitive personal information, including references to potential romantic or personal relationships that would humiliate those involved, have been redacted, according to the policy.

“Andrew Cuomo’s schoolyard bullying and lies have gone on for long enough,” according to a spokesperson with the AG’s office in a statement Thursday afternoon. “New Yorkers are tired of this circus and tired of the day-to-day sideshow by a former governor who is just grasping for the spotlight. Today’s embarrassing press conference was simply dramatics and faux outrage. To be clear, we stand by the report into multiple allegations of sexual harassment against Andrew Cuomo and, more importantly, we stand by the women who were brave enough to come forward and speak truth to power. If Andrew Cuomo didn’t want to be accused of sexual harassment, he shouldn’t have sexually harassed multiple women in the first place.”

Representatives with the attorney general’s office did not answer questions about who or what office completed the redactions, or the reason to release the transcripts last week as other potentially criminal investigations into Cuomo continue.

The former Democratic governor’s legal team has made repeated calls for the transcripts to be released in recent weeks after Cuomo was hit with a misdemeanor forcible touching charge related to allegations from former staffer Brittany Commisso, who says he groped her breast during a visit in the Executive Mansion late last year.

Glavin walked back her earlier demands for their release Thursday, saying she was requesting the attorney general’s office share the transcripts and evidence with Cuomo’s counsel.

Glavin also demanded a criminal investigation into the disclosure of grand jury information in reports published in the New York Post in August and September, accusing Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple of leaking the information to the press.

“Whether or not he’s the source, there must be an investigation into that grand jury leak,” Glavin said. “It’s a felony, and her office cannot do those investigations.”

Glavin confirmed the grand jury investigation involving the misdemeanor charge remains active, but declined to provide other details about the probe.

“The attorney general’s office, given that she’s running for governor, needs to be recused from that investigation,” Glavin said.

Cuomo was state attorney general investigating former Gov. David Paterson in 2010 when he campaigned for governor before taking office in 2011.

James’s office cannot be involved, Glavin said, citing a conflict of interest as the attorney general campaigns to be the state’s next governor.

Albany County District Attorney David Soares said earlier this month that testimony from staffer Brittany Commisso could clear Cuomo.

Cuomo’s court appearance was pushed to Jan. 7, after Soares asked for a 60-day adjournment in order to address a number of issues with the case, specifically noting that Apple “unilaterally and inexplicably” filed the complaint without giving the district attorney’s investigators a heads-up.

Cuomo’s attorneys have asserted his innocence since the report’s Aug. 3 release, and claim the investigation and its findings are riddled with inaccuracies.

The attorney general’s office and the independent investigators continue to stand by the facts outlined in the Aug. 3 report.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

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