ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — State Attorney General Letitia James has released a massive amount of new information about her investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In addition to the transcripts of former aides, she made public video statements of the governor, his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, and many of the women involved in the case, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.READ MORE: New York AG Letitia James Releases Chris Cuomo's Video Testimony In Former Governor's Sexual Harassment Probe
Web Extra: Click here to read transcripts
The massive information dump includes new information about the large roll played by the governor’s brother in devising a strategy to deal with the allegations, plus sizzling new details offered by one of of Cuomo’s chief accusers, Brittany Commisso.
She offered new details about a governor on the prowl.
“He definitely was making it known that he was single and ready to mingle,” Commisso said.
Of all the women charging the former governor with sexual harassment, Commisso’s allegations are the most damaging. She filed a criminal complaint with the Albany County Sheriff, claiming he put his hand under her blouse and groped her at the Executive Mansion.
But now we’ve learned he also wanted her to find him dates, and the 63-year-old was seeking a dream date much younger than himself.
“He said it would definitely have to be maybe late 30s, early 40s, that, you know, going younger that he wasn’t sure how that would look to the general public. It would definitely have to be someone who understood his lifestyle and the line of work that he was in,” Commisso said.
Although Cuomo denied the groping allegations in the written testimony previously released, we are now able to see video of his denial.
“That never happened. Let’s just, you know, at one point there has to be a little reality. To touch a woman’s breast and make myself vulnerable to a woman for such an accusation, it would be an act of insanity. Can you ever hear me saying, somebody says to me, ‘You’re going to get us into trouble … I don’t care.'” Cuomo said.
But there may be some, well, cracks in his testimony. DeRosa, one of Cuomo’s top aides and one of his chief defenders, said that while Cuomo told her he didn’t grope Commisso, “He did not deny that he hugged her.”
DeRosa, who was always at Cuomo’s side during his much-publicized COVID-19 pandemic press conferences, was also asked about the role played by the former governor’s brother, Chris Cuomo. The CNN anchor has denied giving his brother advice about the sexual harassment allegations.
“I talked to Chris pretty regularly. He was on some calls that we did and he advised us on how to respond,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa said Chris Cuomo’s advice changed over time.
“Early on, he thought that we would never convince the public … we wouldn’t win the fight in the public or the press, and so don’t try. … He was saying take a piece of this, own it, and move past it.”
But as the charges mounted, “When there was a big push for us to resign, he was ardently opposed to that,” DeRosa said.READ MORE: Andrew Cuomo's Lawyer Responds To New Evidence Released By Attorney General
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi released the following statement on Monday’s information release.
“To the surprise of no one, Tish James continues abusing her government power to leverage her political future — prosecutorial misconduct, ethics and integrity be damned. James violated the law in appointing biased reviewers and then she admitted personally interfering in the investigation.
“Today’s manipulated release of hand picked witness testimony with selective redactions is typical. She even edited the Governor’s video testimony! It is also no coincidence that she decided to release select transcripts minutes before one of her rivals declared for governor.
“New Yorkers are no one’s fool and James and her colleagues’ obvious misuse of government resources to damage political opponents is as obvious and repugnant as it is unethical and illegal.”
Although DeRosa was and continues to be one of the former governor’s staunchest defenders, she broke down a number of times.
Watch: Marcia Kramer’s 6 p.m. Report On The Cuomo Investigation
“I was scared and I was upset and I was just, like, very traumatized by the situation,” DeRosa said.
The governor’s second in command had always been the strong one through all the months of stunning allegations, but she lost it when probers for the attorney general asked her about nursing home deaths and reports the Cuomo administration had not been totally truthful about how many people died.
“It was too much for me. I literally shut down and I couldn’t be a part of it, where I asked everybody else to take the wheel,” DeRosa said.
In fact, DeRosa admitted she often depended on Cuomo giving her a hand in times of stress. Yes, he got touchy-feely with her in times of joy and in times of sorrow.
“When the nursing home stuff happened, he held my hand, like in moments of traumatic things, or, like, you know, the night of the election I remember, it was like, ‘We did it,’ and we were holding hands,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa denied repeated rumors that she and her boss had a romantic attachment, even though there have been numerous rumors to the contrary. She was questioned about it by one of the governor’s aides.
“He had heard that … was telling people that she walked into the office and that the governor was on top of me, kissing me, to which I expressed outrage, and so then it sort of became a fish story. Every time someone told the story, it got worse,” DeRosa said.
Denying Cuomo’s romantic liaisons, or, more accurately, allegations of sexual harassment became par for the course for DeRosa.
One of the most startling were the charges he inappropriately touched a female state trooper assigned to his detail.
In Cuomo’s videotaped testimony, he denies it.MORE NEWS: Forcible Touching Charge Dismissed Against Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo
In a surprising admission, DeRosa told investigators for the attorney general that she actually spoke to James on the day the governor signed an executive order that allowed her to appoint a special prosecutor. DeRosa claims James reassured her that, “Everything is going to be fine.”