Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called the growing sexual harassment allegations against New York Andrew Cuomo “serious [and] very troubling” but stopped short of calling for the embattled Democrat’s resignation.
Asked at a Capitol news conference whether Cuomo should resign, Schumer said he has faith in the outcome of the independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations to be launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said the allegations made by two former Cuomo employees Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett and a third woman, Anna Ruch, “are serious, very troubling.
“These women have to be listened to,” Schumer continued. “I’ve always believed that sexual harassment is not acceptable, must not be tolerated.”
Schumer said he supports the sexual harassment probe that James is launching.
“There’s an investigation in the hands of a very, very capable person — the Attorney General of New York state,” Schumer said. “I supported it and called for it. And now she’s doing it. I know the Attorney General will conduct a thorough investigation that will be totally, totally independent without any outside interference political or otherwise.”
Pressed on whether Schumer is setting a double standard since he called for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation when the former Minnesota Democrat faced sexual misconduct allegations, Schumer declined to address any apparent discrepancy.
“I have a great deal of faith in the Attorney General’s investigation,” Schumer reiterated.
Cuomo has been in a political firestorm this year for his handling of nursing home coronavirus cases, allegations of bullying and now women stepping forward with claims of sexual harassment.
In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, Ruch, a former member of the Obama administration and the 2020 Biden campaign, claimed that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a wedding in 2019. In an interview, she specified that Cuomo put his hand on her bare lower back. Ruch said she pulled away and was “so confused and shocked and embarrassed” by the incident, the Times reported.
On Saturday, The New York Times also broke a report outlining sexual harassment claims from Bennett, a former executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration who alleged that the governor “asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.”
Her claims came just days after Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and a special adviser to Cuomo, published a bombshell essay on the website Medium. She accused the governor of going “out of his way to touch me on my lower back, arms and legs,” forcibly kissing her on the lips during a one-on-one briefing, and suggesting that they “play strip poker” during a plane ride.
In a statement released Sunday, Cuomo said he “never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody.” But the governor acknowledged that sometimes he teases people in a playful manner that may have made others feel uncomfortable.
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended,” Cuomo said. “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.