New York Attorney General Letitia James released yet another batch of transcripts and video footage on Monday that undergirded her office’s August investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The release includes a video of Cuomo’s 12-hour-long deposition, as well videos of six of ten women who have accused him and were interviewed by the AG’s investigators. James’s office also released transcripts from more than a dozen of Cuomo’s former top aides. Their testimony sheds more light on the inner workings of his executive chamber.
Andrew Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa's Video Testimony
In the newly-released video, Cuomo appeared at times bored, amused, and frustrated during the nearly 12 hours of testimony he gave to the AG’s investigators on July 17th this year.
Former Secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa also spoke to investigators for nearly a dozen hours over two days in July, recounting her time as second-in-command in New York as the office went from battling COVID to running damage control as woman after woman stepped forward alleging Cuomo had sexually harassed them.
In Their Own Words: Six Women Describe Sexual Harassment by Cuomo
Along with Cuomo’s videotaped testimony, the AG’s office released dozens of hours of video of six women who had publicly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment: Charlotte Bennett, Lindsay Boylan, Brittany Commisso, Virginia Limmiatis, Ana Liss, and Alyssa McGrath. The women describe in painstaking detail their encounters with the former governor, who they said made comments about their appearances and other women’s appearances regularly, and in some cases touched them in ways they found inappropriate.
One Staffer Testified That Cuomo Kissed Her and Other Staffers on the Lips
In addition to the newly-released videos, more than a dozen new transcripts from Cuomo’s inner circle shed new light on the inner workings of the executive chamber. One of the transcripts released included testimony from Anabelle Walsh, who worked as Cuomo’s director of scheduling for eight years and was a member of his inner circle, known as “mean girls” by Cuomo and other staffers.
She told AG investigators Cuomo occasionally kissed her on the lips and she’d seen him do the same to others.
“He would do it as sort of, you know, a good-bye sometimes to folks,” Walsh told investigators, adding Cuomo kissed her and she’d seen him kissing former Secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa and former executive secretary Stephanie Benton on the lips, among others.
“What's the longest amount of time that the kiss with the Governor lasted?” asked attorney Jennifer Kennedy-Park.
“I can't say more than one or two seconds,” Walsh said.
“Okay. So you were comfortable with the Governor kissing you on the lips?”
“Yeah. Yes,” Walsh replied.
Both Benton and DeRosa denied they’d ever been kissed by Cuomo on the lips during their interviews with investigators.
“Would it surprise you to learn that the governor frequently kissed Annabel Walsh on the mouth?
“Yes,” DeRosa said, before she cut the interview off for the day.
Yelling, Nicknames, Fruit Thrown At Staffers
Testimony from other staffers reveals an array of unflattering nicknames Cuomo had for more junior staffers like Sponge and Bun. Several described his angry tirades that would make staffers cry. In one case, a staffer said Cuomo lobbed a bag of fruit at them.
In that incident, an unnamed staffer told AG investigators Cuomo was mad at press secretary Richard Azzopardi for failing to get an old headshot swapped out with a newer one for an interview he did with Spectrum NY1. The unnamed staffer said Cuomo summoned the two of them to his office.
“[Cuomo] yelled at him for not replacing the head shot and then he threw a bag of fruit at us and told us to get out,” the staffer said. “It was a regular sized bag of dried apricots that were probably half eaten.”
Asked about the incident, Azzopardi denied any knowledge of it.
“I think I'd remember that. The answer is no,” he said.
The alleged behavior extended beyond the executive chamber. Chris Cuomo, anchor of Cuomo Prime Time on CNN, told investigators his brother often mocked him for effeminate behavior.
“You know, that I'm emotional, I'm so emotional because, you know, that's like being effeminate, you know, in his tough-guy world.”
“So you're acting like a girl. That's the joke?” Kennedy-Park asked.
"Yeah,” Chris Cuomo replied.
Chris Cuomo Was Regularly Consulted by Executive Chamber Staff As His Brothers Scandals Unfolded
Chris Cuomo also told the attorney general’s investigators that he didn’t remember giving his brother advice as he handled various allegations of sexual harassment this spring. “I didn't give him advice about what to do or not do in a situation like this,” the younger brother said. But documents released by the AG’s office showed he was in regular email and text contact with executive chamber staff and Secretary DeRosa as scandals unfolded.
“Here’s what he should have said,” Cuomo texted DeRosa on March 1st, adding a tweaked statement his older brother could have used to respond to sexual harassment allegations from Charlotte Bennett.
DeRosa asked Chris Cuomo to “check [his] sources,” when she started to hear rumors other accusers were coming forward on March 3rd. She asked for his thoughts on a series of statements the office sent out as more allegations emerged.
“We are making mistakes we cant afford,” the former governor’s brother texted DeRosa on March 10th, telling her to trust him.
A spokesperson for CNN said the transcripts and documents “deserve a thorough review.”
“We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days,” the spokesperson said.
Jen Chung and Emily Lang contributed reporting.