NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s attempt to defend himself from the allegations of sexual harassment made by nearly a dozen women has been made public.
It includes his emotional insistence that the allegations he groped a female aide simply “never happened.”READ MORE: CNN's Chris Cuomo Suspended Indefinitely Over Extent Of Help To His Brother During Scandal
As CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday, it’s the ultimate “he said, she said” story that could very well end up being played out in an Albany courtroom.
Former aide Brittany Commisso went to authorities with her tale of being manhandled by Cuomo in the Executive Mansion, but he says the incident is “just not even feasible.”
“He put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra. I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself ‘Oh my God, this is happening,'” Commisso said.
Web Extra: Read The Testimony Transcripts
Commisso made the accusation not only to investigators for Attorney General Letitia James, but to the Albany county sheriff, who ended up bringing charges against the former governor for forcible touching.
But to Cuomo, who was grilled for 11 often combative hours about allegations he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, Commisso’s tale that is just that: A tale.
“That never happened,” Cuomo told investigators. “You know, at one point, there has to be a little reality. To touch a woman’s breast who I hardly know, in the mansion, with 10 staff around, with my family in the mansion. To say ‘I don’t care who sees us,’ … I would have to lose my mind to do such a thing. It would be an act of insanity to touch a woman’s breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation.”
“I am 63 years old. I have been in every public office — state, federal. Numerous people have tried to set me up. I’m always wary of people. I have phenomenal precautions… I mean… it’s just not even feasible,” Cuomo added.
This is the first time we’ve heard Cuomo’s actual testimony. It was released by James, whose investigation led Cuomo to resign as governor on Aug. 10. Cuomo’s 515 page deposition was released, along with the transcripts of 11 women who testified against him. But the most damning, because it could lead to a misdemeanor conviction, was Commisso’s. She also said that Cuomo touched other parts of her body while she was taking a selfie.READ MORE: TIMELINE: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Resigns In Wake Of Sexual Harassment, Nursing Home Scandals
“I then felt, while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back, onto my butt. And he started rubbing it. Not sliding it, not quickly brushing over it. Rubbing my butt,” Commisso said.
Cuomo described Commisso as “flirtatious” and a “gossip hotline,” who regaled him with tales of who was dating who in the Albany government crowd.
The governor was asked at length about his penchant for kissing people. There are many pictures of him kissing people at various public events. He says it’s usually on the cheek, but says he may have kissed staffers on the lips at staff parties or birthdays. He was also asked “Have you ever lied down on a couch with your head on the lap of a staffer?”
“I have… lay down on the couch often because I have a bad back,” Cuomo said. But, he insisted, “I’ll put my hand behind my head to sort of prop it up.”
Cuomo also made it clear he didn’t care for the investigator hired by James, Joon Kim, a deputy under former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who previously investigated the Cuomo administration and led the prosecution of Joe Percoco, the governor’s longtime aide who he once described as Mario Cuomo’s third son.
“I mean, the concept of you as the resolution to the conflict as an independent reviewer, is bizarre to me, and raises ethical and legal questions,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo left the interview with a parting shot at Kim.
“I would like to say it was a pleasure, Mr. Kim,” Cuomo said. “But I’m under oath.”
A spokesman for Cuomo released a statement slamming the Attorney General on Wednesday:
“Finally — after three months for stalling — Tish James has been forced to release transcripts as more and more people are questioning her shoddy and politically motivated report. However, these transcripts include questionable redactions, and raise even more questions about key omissions made during this slanted process, which reeks of prosecutorial misconduct. This was clearly done to change the subject, but the attorney general needs to answer the following questions.
1. In the Governor’s testimony he said directly to Joon Kim that Ibrahim Khan — the AG’s chief of staff— had been coordinating with Trip Yang and Lindsey Boylan‘s campaign and that it suggested collusion between James and Boylan. Other than to hide this obvious conflict of interest, why was this information redacted?
2. In the Boylan testimony, why didn’t they ask her about the fact that Liz Fine, current counsel to the governor, requested Boylan‘s termination for abusing staff?
3. Why didn’t they question Boylan about her texts to executive chamber staff specifically saying she would retaliate against the governor because “life is long and so is my memory and so are my resources” and “the future is coming after (expletive.)”
4. Brittany Commisso testified that the governor became more reserved after Boylan started tweeting attacks against him. Did James tell Sheriff Apple that the new date of her allegation, December 7, was after Boylan started tweeting and therefore inconsistent with Commisso’s testimony?
5. James said that she spoke to politicians in Albany for her investigation. Who are those politicians that James spoke to to inform her investigation and where are their transcripts?
6. James’ press release now says it was an “independent investigation.” However, just four weeks ago James said that she personally conducted the investigation. Was she lying then or is she lying now?
7. Why didn’t investigators ask Charlotte Bennett about her activity at Hamilton College and her filing a false allegation?
8. Why did they omit the circumstances that caused the governor to talk to Bennett and provided the motivation for their conversation?
9. Why is James suddenly releasing the transcripts now after she said she had sent them to several district attorneys who are doing investigations?
10. Are the other district attorneys besides Albany not doing investigations?
The more we know about this investigation the more we know what a fraud it was.”
James’ office says she will not be responding to any of the questions from the Cuomo camp. The office says this is a PR stunt raising questions not directly related to the sexual harassment allegations.MORE NEWS: Attorney General's Office Releases Another Round Of Transcripts In Andrew Cuomo Investigation
Meanwhile, the state Assembly Investigations Committee is shortly scheduled to release its own report on Cuomo’s behavior.