A growing number of Democrats have called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step down amid deepening scandal, but President Biden isn’t going that far yet.
“There should be an investigation to determine whether what she says is true,” Biden said, referring to one of Cuomo’s accusers. “That’s what’s going on now.”
He added: “There could be a criminal prosecution that is attached to it. I just don’t know.”
That’s a shade stronger than Biden’s previous comment on the situation, in which he simply said the accusations should be investigated.
But it’s a far cry from a majority of New York congressional Democrats, who say Cuomo should call it quits right now based on the allegations aired so far.
The three-term governor is facing a trifecta of scandals: Numerous women, including two former staffers, have claimed he sexually harassed them; others in the political world have accused Cuomo of intimidation tactics; and he is also under investigation for failing to report COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes.
As Biden was grilled about the governor, new details were emerging about the Cuomo team’s desperate campaign to defend himself against former top aide Lindsey Boylan—who initially accused the governor on Twitter and later gave a fuller account, with allegations he invited her to play strip poker and planted an unwanted kiss on her lips, on Medium.
The New York Times reports that after Boylan’s initial tweets, people close to Cuomo began circulating an open letter that attacked her motives in the hopes that former aides, especially women, would sign it.
“Weaponizing a claim of sexual harassment for personal political gain or to achieve notoriety cannot be tolerated,” the letter said, according to the Times. “False claims demean the veracity of credible claims.”
Cuomo was reportedly involved in the drafting of the never-released letter, which includes details of personnel complaints against Boylan, who is currently running for Manhattan borough president.
Boylan’s attorney, Jill Basinger, said the letter was a smear.
“Once again, a victim of sexual harassment who has the courage to tell her story is put in the position of not only having to relive the trauma of a toxic work environment but defend herself against the malicious leaking of supposed personnel files, character assassinations and a whisper campaign of retaliation,” Basinger told the Times. “This page needs to be ripped out of the governor’s harassment handbook.”
A spokesman for Cuomo had no comment on the letter. Cuomo has denied harassing anyone and has argued that his very personal style was misinterpreted as flirtation. He has also insisted he will not step down.