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New York attorney general announces lawyers who will lead Cuomo investigation

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday announced that lawyers Joon Kim and Anne Clark will lead the state's investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct made against Governor Andrew Cuomo. Multiple women, several of whom are former aides to the governor, have accused the governor of sexually inappropriate behavior.

"We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts," James said Monday in a statement. "Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law. There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve."  

Kim served as the acting U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York from March 2017 until January 2018, taking over for Preet Bharara after he was dismissed by former President Trump. Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., specializing in employment law, according to James' statement.

Kim and Clark will have subpoena power and the authority to conduct formal depositions as part of the investigation, James said. 

On Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ana Liss, a woman who served as a policy and operations aide to Cuomo between 2013 and 2015, said that Cuomo had once asked if she had a boyfriend and touched her on her lower back at a reception and once kissed her hand when she rose from her desk. 

The allegations are similar to those by Charlotte Bennett, another former Cuomo aide. Bennett, who was the governor's executive assistant and a health policy adviser, told CBS News that during a one-on-one meeting in June 2020, Cuomo asked questions that led her to the conclusion that, "the governor's trying to sleep with me."

"Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely," she said.

Karen Hinton, another former aide, told the Washington Post that Cuomo "summoned her to his dimly lit hotel room and embraced her after a work event in 2000." Cuomo denied Hinton's story.

Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, accused Cuomo of giving her an unwanted kiss and making inappropriate comments. Anna Ruch has accused the governor of touching her lower back and face and asking if he could kiss her at a wedding reception in 2019.  

Cuomo has apologized for some of his behavior, saying during a press conference last week that he was "embarrassed" for the "pain I've caused."

"I never knew at the time that I was making anyone feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said. "I never, ever meant to offend anyone or hurt anyone or cause anyone pain. I feel terrible that these people felt uncomfortable, felt hurt, felt pain from the interactions, and I'm embarrassed by it, and I feel bad from it." 

Cuomo has also said his actions were misinterpreted, and his behavior is his way "of doing friendly banter."

"I know if customs change, then I'll change the customs and the behaviors, but I never meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable," Cuomo said at a separate press conference on Sunday.

Calls for Cuomo to resign have grown amid the increasing number of women coming forward with accusations of inappropriate behavior and as the governor finds himself embroiled in a scandal over his administration's reporting of nursing home COVID deaths in the state. Multiple state Democrats, including New York State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, have said the governor should step aside.

Cuomo on Sunday said, "there is no way I resign" and spent the weekend calling state officials and lawmakers reiterating that message and asking them for patience as the attorney general's investigation moves forward.

Norah O'Donnell, Jericka Duncan and Ed O'Keefe contributed reporting.

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