Politics

Report says aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to discredit one of his accusers

At least seven women have accused the three-term Democrat of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior. There are two probes underway into Cuomo’s alleged conduct — one by the attorney general and an impeachment inquiry by the state assembly.

Boylan, who served in several roles in the Cuomo administration from 2015 to 2018 including deputy secretary for economic development, accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in a Twitter thread in December.

Days later, Ana Liss, who also accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior, said Cuomo’s aide Richard Azzopardi called her to inquire about Boylan.

Liss, who served as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo from 2013 to 2015, was interviewed by the New York attorney general’s office on Thursday for two hours and said investigators homed in on Azzopardi’s phone call, she told Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV.

“In no uncertain terms, he asked me, ‘Have you been in touch with Lindsey Boylan? Has she contacted you? What’s the nature of your relationship with Lindsey Boylan? If she contacts you, let me know,'” Liss recalled.

Liss said the call was either an effort to flag her as “somebody they might want to dig up dirt on in case I did say something” or a prod to “encourage me to speak out in support of the governor.”

“I don’t think the average person in New York would like to know that their governor is an absolute monster,” she told WHAM.

Liss’ allegations against Cuomo were published by The Wall Street Journal on March 6. She said the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand as she rose from her desk.

The Journal reported that the governor’s office called at least six former employees to either find out if they had heard from Boylan or to obtain information about her. Some aides told The Journal they saw the conversations as attempts to intimidate them. One said a caller encouraged them to give information that could discredit Boylan.

In a Medium piece, Boylan claimed Cuomo invited her to play strip poker on one occasion and kissed her without warning in 2018 in his New York office.

In an interview with The New Yorker, Boylan said the governor’s office reportedly leaked her personnel records including allegations that she bullied colleagues, some of whom were women of color, to reporters.

The Journal’s report also said advisers to the governor drafted a letter attacking Boylan’s credibility. The first drafts were reported by The New York Times which said that Cuomo’s advisers ultimately decided against releasing the letter.

“Cuomo’s aides were planning how exactly to discredit Lindsey Boylan starting from the moment that she tweeted,” Ronan Farrow, who spoke to Boylan for The New Yorker, said Friday on “Good Morning America.”

The New Yorker report alleged Cuomo’s senior aide Melissa DeRosa, Azzopardi and the governor’s former secretary, Steven M. Cohen, were part of the effort to “squash” her tweets.

“My life was, you know, for a period, destroyed,” Farrow said Boylan told him.

Cuomo’s acting counsel, Beth Garvey, told The New Yorker, “With certain limited exceptions, as a general matter, it is within a government entity’s discretion to share redacted employment records, including in instances when members of the media ask for such public information and when it is for the purpose of correcting inaccurate or misleading statements.”

Cuomo’s office did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment on Boylan’s and Liss’ claims.

Farrow said Boylan’s account shows “a pattern of the governor weaponizing any available information through his aides and through intermediaries in New York politics and getting those claims into the press.”

In The New Yorker report, Boylan brought a new claim of harassment that she said unfolded in 2018. She claimed she was walking with Cuomo after a meeting at the governor’s mansion when his dog jumped on her and Cuomo joked that “if he were a dog, he would try to ‘mount’ her as well.”

Cuomo has resisted calls from the New York congressional delegation and local lawmakers to resign. He has also repeatedly denied any wrongdoing but admitted he may have made people feel “uncomfortable” unintentionally.

Cuomo’s press secretary Caitlin Girouard dismissed Boylan’s claims to The New York Times as “quite simply false.”

President Joe Biden said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday that if the investigation shows wrongdoing, Cuomo should resign.

Source:

abcnews.go.com

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