US Senator Schumer backs inquiry after more women accuse Cuomo of sex misconduct

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© Reuters. Impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump continues in Washington

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By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The most powerful New Yorker in Congress, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on Sunday said he backed an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo made by five women, most of them former aides.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and can never be tolerated,” Schumer, a Democrat, told reporters at a briefing. “Women have to be listened to … the allegations of each of the women have to be taken seriously.”

He called the accusations “deeply troubling” and said he supported an ongoing investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“I have a lot of faith in her. I believe that she will turn over every stone and I believe she will make sure there is no outside interference, politically or otherwise,” Schumer said.

Cuomo on Sunday repeated his pledge to remain in office and steer his state, once the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, through the COVID-19 crisis and onto economic recovery.

“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” Cuomo told reporters on Sunday, according to media reports. “It’s damning to publicize allegations before you know that they are credible … Let the attorney general do her job.”

In the latest accusations against the Democratic governor, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that a former aide, Ana Liss, said Cuomo in 2014 sometimes greeted her with a hug and kisses on both cheeks, called her “sweetheart,” kissed her hand and asked her if she had a boyfriend.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that a former press aide, Karen Hinton, said that in 2000 Cuomo – when he was federal housing secretary under President Bill Clinton – embraced her in a hotel room after a work event.

The new accusations surfaced after three women had accused Cuomo, 63, of sexually harassing them or making inappropriate remarks. He has denied any misconduct and pledged to cooperate with the review by James’ office.

The governor, who has rejected calls for his resignation that have come even from prominent Democratic state lawmakers, also has battled in recent weeks to respond to accusations that his administration sought to downplay the number of nursing home residents killed by COVID-19.

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