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Cuomo Accuses AG's Investigators Of Bias

File: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public appearance since being questioned by the state Attorney General’s office about allegations of sexual harassment, cast doubt on the motives of the investigators, saying it’s likely that “politics” are involved.

Cuomo in March said he trusted AG Tish James to conduct a fair investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against him from multiple women.

But as the probe continues, the governor and his top aides have said several times that James might be politically motivated because she is considering a run for governor. James, a fellow Democrat, has not announced any plans to seek higher office.

Cuomo, who was interviewed by the AG’s office for several hours on July 17, is now questioning the integrity of the investigators that James authorized to conduct the probe.

“I have concerns as to the independence of the reviewers,” said Cuomo. “Is this all happening in a political system? Yes, that is undeniable.”

When asked by reporters why he thinks the investigators are biased, the governor said to “Google” them.

“And tell me what you see,” the governor said.   

One of the lead investigators, Joon Kim, a former acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was a top deputy to former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara oversaw cases that resulted in Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, and other former associates of the governor being sent to federal prison.

Bharara, on his podcast “Stay Tuned with Preet”, predicted on July 22 that Kim’s report will be impartial and unbiased.

“The report will be fact-based, professional, it will be without innuendo,” said Bharara, saying he expected the final report to dismiss any allegations reported in the media if there is no evidence to support them and corroborating any charges that are found to be credible.

Bharara accused Cuomo of using tactics similar to those of former President Donald Trump, who tried to undermine investigations against him by calling them, without evidence, a “witch hunt.”

The former U.S. Attorney also addressed a story in the New York Post’s Page Six, which said the governor and his aides were spreading rumors that Bharara wanted to run for governor, and would try to persuade Kim to come up with a negative report against the governor to help his former boss’s political aspirations. Bharara called that theory “demented.”

“I’m not planning to run for governor next year,” Bharara said. “And everyone who knows me, knows that.”

Even though the governor impugned the motives of the AG’s investigators, Cuomo also says that he expects the “truth” will come out in the investigation.

“When they get the facts, I am very confident that they will be shocked at what they have heard about this, versus what they know about it,” Cuomo said. “I’m confident that when they get the facts they are going to understand exactly what happened.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney General declined to comment.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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