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U.S. Justice Department probes sexual harassment claims against Andrew Cuomo

WorldDec 03, 2021 02:20AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A farewell speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is broadcast live on a screen in Times Square on his final day in office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

By Tyler Clifford

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating sexual harassment claims made against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, according to a document made available by the state of New York on Thursday.

The document in question provides details of a contract approved by New York officials earlier in the week for legal services to assist the current governor's office in responding to multiple state and federal investigations into the Cuomo administration's affairs.

"DOJ has also undertaken an inquiry related to sexual harassment claims made against the then governor," the contract says.

In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, the record noted that Cuomo faced other inquiries into his administration's handling of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes. The DOJ decided against opening a civil rights investigation into the nursing homes matter last summer.

Questions have also surfaced over whether Cuomo used state resources to write a book chronicling his leadership during the height of the pandemic and other matters related to the state's COVID-19 response, the document said.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cuomo could not be reached for comment.

The New York Post was first to report news of the contract disclosing the DOJ's probe.

Cuomo, a Democrat, resigned in August after facing mounting legal and political pressure in the wake of a damning report released by state Attorney General Letitia James. The report found he sexually harassed 11 women, tarnishing the legacy of the three-term governor.

An investigation by the Democratic-led state Assembly, which threatened impeachment proceedings against him, also found that Cuomo sexually harassed women, used state resources for the book and released murky numbers on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes.

Cuomo has steadfastly denied the allegations made against him. In August he said he accepted "full responsibility" for what he characterized as ill-conceived attempts to be affectionate or humorous, but said he would resign for the good of the state.

The former governor contends that the investigation led by James was politically motivated. His lawyer Rita Galvin has called on James, who has declared her candidacy for governor, to recuse herself from any investigations involving Cuomo.

The current governor, Kathy Hochul, signed an agreement in October to retain the services of New York firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

U.S. Justice Department probes sexual harassment claims against Andrew Cuomo

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