New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to carry on as if his administration wasn't teetering on the brink of collapse Wednesday, tweeting the latest COVID numbers, as well as a St. Patty's Day-themed greeting.
Today New York expanded eligibility to three new categories:— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 17, 2021
- Public-facing government & public employees
- Nonprofit workers who provide public-facing services
- Essential in-person public-facing building service workers
Book your appointment today: https://t.co/FH0rVoXvy4 pic.twitter.com/Xr1k1dpWWp
However, reporters have been notably absent from most of his public events in recent days, since even a "steamroller" like Cuomo can't ignore a room packed with journalists all vying to ask the same question.
Last night, President Joe Biden told George Stephanopoulos (the ABC journalist and Clinton-era Democratic operative) that Cuomo's accusers (who are nearing double-digit territory) "should be believed". Meanwhile, the New York Times published a shocking new piece detailing how Cuomo and his aides initially planned on handling his accusers before the twin nursing home and sexual harassment scandals blew up in Cuomo's face.
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide who is now running for the Democratic nomination to be the next Manhattan Borough President, first levied accusations of harassment at Cuomo back in December in a twitter storm/and later a medium post. But it wasn't until two months later, after Cuomo acknowledged that his office had underreported nursing home deaths (his only explanation was that it was a "mistake" which occurred during the chaos of COVID) and more accusers had come forward (one with an embarrassing photo depicting Cuomo with his lips pursed and hands on a young woman's face) that calls for Cuomo to resign began.
While his staff struggled to quell the burgeoning scandal, the NYT revealed that Cuomo and his team penned a letter accusing Boylan of engaging in "political retribution" and circulated it among staffers and aides in Albany. The initial plan, according to the NYT, was to get women in Albany to sign it. Nobody actually did, and the letter was eventually shelved, meaning it never saw the light of day - until now.
NYT described the letter as "a full-on attack on Ms. Boylan's credibility." Cuomo was directly involved in penning the letter, they added.
The letter was a full-on attack on Ms. Boylan’s credibility, suggesting that her accusation was premeditated and politically motivated. It disclosed personnel complaints filed against her and attempted to link her to supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.
"Weaponizing a claim of sexual harassment for personal political gain or to achieve notoriety cannot be tolerated," the letter concluded. "False claims demean the veracity of credible claims."
The initial idea, according to three people with direct knowledge of the events, was to have former Cuomo aides — especially women — sign their names to the letter and circulate it fairly widely.
Multiple drafts were created, and Mr. Cuomo was involved in creating the letter, one of the people said. Current aides to the governor emailed at least one draft to a group of former advisers. From there, it circulated to current and former top aides to the governor.
One draft of the letter obtained by the NYT included excerpts from text conversations involving Boylan.
At least one version of the letter included Ms. Boylan’s text exchanges with some of Mr. Cuomo’s senior advisers last year, in an effort to suggest that she was malicious. The Times is not quoting extensively from the letter, to avoid publishing character attacks that were not made publicly. The draft extensively disparaged Ms. Boylan and accused her of using her claims for “political retribution.” The letter pointed out that Ms. Boylan’s campaign consultant also represented a political adversary of the governor's, and that Ms. Boylan was "supported by lawyers and financial backers of Donald Trump: an active opponent of the governor."
It's not clear exactly how many people were asked to sign the letter, though the NYT managed to find at least two people who were asked to sign, and chose not to. We imagine there are many more.
At the time the letter was written, Cuomo's office was aware of another accuser who had yet to come forward. The text, and the speed in which it was circulated, are evidence that Cuomo and his team were poised to "to quickly and aggressively undercut Ms. Boylan, a Democrat who is running for Manhattan borough president." It's suggested the other accuser was 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, who claimed she practically fled after suspecting that Cuomo might be trying to sleep with her.
Biden has said that Cuomo should resign if an investigation being conducted by AG Letitia James' office (and being supervised by two lawyers, including a former federal prosecutor) corroborates his accusers accusations. Many others, including most of the NY Congressional delegation, have urged the governor to resign immediately. Cuomo, for his part, has said he won't "bow to cancel culture" and refused to resign. Nancy Pelosi added her name to the list of politicians who called on Cuomo to resign on Wednesday, after earlier saying his accusers were "credible." Notably, VP Kamala Harris has been quiet on Cuomo.
This isn't the first time we have learned about Cuomo's efforts to shut down his accusers. The WSJ reported earlier this month that Cuomo aides called other aides and people who worked in Cuomo's office to try and identify any potential threats to the governor.
As the governor desperately clings to power in the hopes he might be able to ride out the storm and finish his third term (tying the three terms served by his father, Mario Cuomo), Cuomo revealed Wednesday that he's planning on getting the JNJ vaccine, as he has finally become eligible.