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CNN's Chris Cuomo Suspended Indefinitely Over Extent Of Help To His Brother During Scandal

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo "indefinitely, pending further evaluation."

The move comes after Attorney General Letitia James released transcripts detailing involvement by Chris Cuomo with how his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, addressed allegations of sexual harassment.

In a statement, CNN said:

The New York Attorney General's office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo's involvement in his brother's defense. The documents, which we were not not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother's staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.

"Cuomo Prime Time" is often CNN's most-watched show of the day, airing at 9 p.m. Eastern time on weeknights.

The CNN anchor had pressed sources for information on his brother's accusers and reported back to the governor's staff, and was active helping craft their response to the charges, according to emails and a transcript of his testimony to investigators working for James.

Chris Cuomo had previously acknowledged talking to his brother and offering advice when the governor faced the harassment charges that led to his resignation.

"When my brother's situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisors that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was problem for CNN," Chris Cuomo admitted back in May.

He also apologized for it.

"It will not happen again. It was a mistake," he said.

He added, "I know where the line is. I can respect it and still be there for my family, which I must. I have to do that. I love my brother. I love my family. I love my job."

But the information released Nov. 29 revealed far more details about what he did.

Andrew Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial, after an investigation led by James found he sexually harassed at least 11 women.

The anchor did his show Monday night without mentioning the topic. In the past, he's said he's never reported on his brother's situation for the network and never tried to influence coverage. On-air in August, he said: "I tried to do the right thing," adding he "wasn't in control of anything."

Cuomo interviewed his brother on the air a number of times during the first two months of the COVID-19 epidemic. It was a hit with viewers, although it violated CNN's policy of not having Cuomo report on his brother, and was a programming choice that has grown worse with time and additional revelations.

Monday's releases show Chris Cuomo growing frustrated with his brother's advisers as they scrambled to respond as more women came forward with harassment allegations.

In one text to the governor's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, Chris Cuomo said, "I panic every time I see your (---) name," then, "You need to trust me... We are making mistakes we can't afford."

The anchor pressed for greater involvement in crafting his brother's message and offered up his journalistic sleuthing to find out what other allegations might be looming.

On March 4, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa, saying "I have a lead on the wedding girl," referring to Anna Ruch, who accused his brother of unwanted touching at a wedding reception.

On March 7, as rumors swirled that more women were about to come forward, DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo: "Can u check your sources." He replied, "On it."

That seems to contradict what he has said on the air before: "I never made calls to the press about my brother's situation."

In the July deposition, Chris Cuomo said, "When asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out."

Chris Cuomo was also apparently sometimes conscious about the inflammatory nature of what he was saying, at one point urging DeRosa, "Delete this thread."

Charlotte Bennett, one of Andrew Cuomo's accusers, tweeted that Chris Cuomo must be fired.

It's not clear how long CNN's investigation will go before they make a final decision on the anchor's future.

CBS2's Dick Brennan contributed to this report, which first appeared on Nov. 30.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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