Cuomo Hires Criminal Defense Attorney, Avoids Public As Scandals Mount
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has retained a prominent white-collar defense attorney following allegations of sexual harassment and Justice Department inquiries over COVID-19 nursing home deaths, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Attorney Elkan Abramowitz – a former federal prosecutor – confirmed with the Journal that he is now representing Cuomo’s ‚executive chamber‘, which includes the governor and his closes aides. Abramowitz is dealing with both scandals as New York Attorney General Letitia James joins the DOJ in investigating the embattled New York bigwig.
The Democratic governor faces an investigation overseen by State Attorney General Letitia James into whether he sexually harassed women who previously worked in his administration. Mr. Cuomo acknowledged he had sometimes been overly personal while interacting with staff and said he was sorry if anyone mistook it for unwanted flirtation.
Cuomo’s apology strategy is going well…. pic.twitter.com/lJ8OY3ORee
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) March 1, 2021
Two women have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment ranging from inappropriate questions, to touching, to forcibly kissing. One accuser says Cuomo clearly wanted to sleep with her.
Over the weekend, Cuomo denied forcibly kissing former aide Lindsey Boylan, who said the governor would also go out of his way to touch her „on my lower back, arms and legs.“ He did, however, seemingly admit to using inappropriate language.
Cuomo also said last week that the state is cooperating with three inquiries from the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York located in Brooklyn, as well as the DOJ’s Civil Rights and Civil divisions based in Washington. Brooklyn prosecutors have requested data on the number of people who died in New York nursing homes during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the governor has stepped out of the public spotlight – last making a televised pandemic briefing on Feb. 19, while his public schedule remains empty according to Bloomberg.
Cuomo’s uncharacteristic silence comes a day after he agreed to an independent probe by a special investigator after a second former aide accused him of sexual harassment. Cuomo stopped short of having New York Attorney General Letitia James lead the probe, a move championed by dozens of other lawmakers.
On Monday, state Senator Todd Kaminsky introduced a bill that would allow the attorney general to conduct a criminal investigation without a referral from the governor, a move he said would strengthen independent oversight of the governor and other state officials.
„Clearly where the governor is involved there is a conflict,“ said Kaminsky.
Veteran Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf told Bloomberg: „The problem is he’s being squeezed on the left and the right, and if there are more accusations of sexual harassment or governmental incompetence or corruption, he’s going to have a very difficult time surviving,“ adding „He has very few friends.„