Calls grow for outside probe of abuse claims against New York governor Cuomo

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Prominent Democratic politicians called Sunday for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against New York governor Andrew Cuomo after a second former aide accused him of misconduct.

The latest allegations were made public on Saturday after 25-year-old former health advisor Charlotte Bennett told The New York Times the governor sexually harassed her in 2020.

Cuomo, who denies any wrongdoing, has promised an independent investigation to be led by a federal judge. But high profile figures in his own party said that was insufficient.

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Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, called for a truly independent inquiry to be led by the state attorney general.

“Not the investigation that he announced himself?” an ABC interviewer asked.

“I wouldn’t consider that to be independent,” replied Hirono, who regularly asks nominees seeking Senate confirmation if they have ever committed sexual improprieties.

Rahm Emanuel, a former Democratic member of Congress and ex-Chicago mayor, called for a “robust and transparent process” and not one initiated by Cuomo.

According to Bennett, the 63-year-old politician said in June he was open to dating women in their 20s, and asked her if she thought age made a difference in romantic relationships, the Times reported.

While Cuomo never tried to touch her, “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared,” she said.

Cuomo became a national star last spring with his straight-talking yet empathetic coronavirus briefings. They fueled speculation that President Joe Biden – then a candidate – might consider him as a running mate.

Cuomo said in a statement Saturday he “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
He said he wanted instead to support and mentor Bennett.

On Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, said in a blog that Cuomo had harassed her when she was working for his administration, from 2015 to 2018.

Boylan, 36, alleged that the governor had given her an unsolicited kiss on the lips, suggested that they play strip poker and went “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs.”

Cuomo’s office said those “claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN both women should be treated with respect and dignity.

“There should be an independent review looking into these allegations and that’s certainly something (Biden) supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible,” she said.

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