Psaki won’t say if Harris will speak out on Cuomo sexual misconduct allegations
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not have an answer as to if or when Vice President Kamala Harris might speak out on the sexual misconduct allegations against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Fox News’ Kristin Fisher pointed out that Harris was “one of the most vocal critics” when Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced similar allegations to those leveled against Cuomo. Fisher noted that, at that time, Harris said: “I believe them [the women].”
Fisher also noted that the third woman to accuse Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances, Anna Ruch, worked for the Biden-Harris campaign. Rich said Cuomo placed his hand on her lower back and asked to kiss her at a wedding.
“So at what point is the first female vice president going to say something about this?” she asked Tuesday.
“The benefit of doing a briefing every day is I can certainly speak on behalf of the president and the vice president,” Psaki said. “So let me reiterate that they both believe that every woman coming forward should be heard, should be treated with dignity and treated with respect.” She added that they support the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“It’s one thing to hear it from you and it’s appreciated but it’s another thing to hear it from the vice president or the president himself. Can we expect to hear it from them anytime soon?” Fisher asked.
“Again, I am speaking on their behalf that’s how they feel,” she said.
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Harris, who spent many years prosecuting sex crimes, was a staunch critic of Kavanaugh and a supporter of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of assault against him. She grilled the justice during his confirmation hearing, and then called for his impeachment after he had been confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Cuomo is facing mounting calls for his resignation.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo acknowledged the elephant in the room at the top of his prime-time show Monday, saying he knows “what is going on” with his older brother, but could not cover it due to his conflict of interest. CNN has given the sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo more attention over the past week, but initially, the liberal network and the governor’s brother gave the Democrat’s controversies little to no airtime. Previously, the network gave Chris Cuomo free rein to conduct friendly, comical interviews with the governor, who wrote a book about successfully handling the pandemic in the middle of the crisis.
Meanwhile, other prominent Democratic women have addressed the allegations as three women have now spoken out. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that the allegations were “difficult to read” and New Yorkers “deserve answers.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also addressed the allegations on Sunday, calling them “serious and credible” after the second woman, Charlotte Bennett, accused Cuomo of harassment.
Other Democratic members of the New York congressional delegation, including Sen. Kristin Gillibrand and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have expressed concern at the allegations and publicly supported the independent investigation.
Cuomo acquiesced to demands Monday that he allow the New York Attorney General’s Office to have full control of the investigation into the allegations. An independent legal team appointed by the attorney general will now conduct the review. Cuomo at first had tried to refer the issue to Barbara Jones, a former U.S. district judge, who worked with one of his former advisers.
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Cuomo has been accused by a former aide, Lindsey Boylan, of orchestrating a “pervasive” culture of “sexual harassment and bullying.” She posted on Medium that Cuomo once suggested that they play “strip poker” during a flight in October 2017 and said he once kissed her on the lips.
Charlotte Bennett, who is described by The New York Times as “an executive assistant and health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration until she left in November,” alleges that Cuomo “asked her questions about her sex life, whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men.”
Cuomo’s office has denied Boylan’s allegations. He said he never made advances toward Bennett “nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.”
Cuomo issued a statement on Sunday to address the sexual harassment allegations more generally.
“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way,” the governor explained. “I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”
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Cuomo added: “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. 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.”
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