Cuomo staying carefully choreographed, avoiding scandal questions

ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing everything he can to avoid talking about the dual nursing home and sexual harassment scandals plaguing his administration.

For weeks, he had not taken questions during in-person events, and Monday, he began stonewalling over the phone as well. It comes as accusers and lawmakers remain concerned the governor may be interfering with the Attorney General’s investigation into sexual harassment claims.

Monday, Cuomo made COVID-related announcements at a church in Mt. Vernon. The press was again barred due to “COVID restrictions” even as Cuomo stood shoulder-to-shoulder with allies. Ignoring the ongoing scandals, the religious leaders generally praised Cuomo’s pandemic leadership, particularly his focus on racial equity.

Later in the day, as has become the norm, Cuomo took questions over the phone. However, he is now filtering those questions as well. “As you know there is an ongoing review by the Assembly and Attorney General’s Office, and I’m not going to have any comment on that until the appropriate time,” Cuomo said regarding the scandals.

However, he failed to talk about his office running its own investigation into the growing list of sexual harassment complaints against him.

The governor’s office is also offering legal representation to anyone being interviewed as part of the independent Attorney General’s investigation.

Debra Katz, who represents one of Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennett, is calling on Attorney General Tish James to tell the Cuomo administration to stop interfering. “If you fear retaliation, as most witnesses do, and you have the governor’s lawyer go with you, it’ll be very chilling to what you have to say,” she said. “These interviews should be done in a way that witnesses can share whatever information they have.”

Monday, Cuomo also refused to say if he agrees with the decision by Republican Rep. Tom Reed to not run for Congress again in 2022. Reed represents parts of Western New York.

Last week, Reed was accused of sexually harassing a lobbyist in 2017.

Over the weekend, Reed apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions.

Cuomo has not ruled out running for a 4th term, and his critics have criticized his response to the allegations.

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