Cuomo’s biggest scandal

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August 2021. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo/TNS)

A winter of discontent is about to begin for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He will be left to ruminate on his actions set forth in a damning report released this week by the state Assembly Judiciary Committee.

The report, commissioned by the panel and drafted by Davis Polk & Wardwell as part of the Assembly’s five-month impeachment investigation into numerous allegations against Cuomo. Its conclusions form a harrowing triple-header of sexual misconduct, deception and ethical violations and potential violations of the state Public Officers Law.

n First, the report reveals certain senior state officials met with book agents and publishers, transcribed portions of Cuomo’s “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” helped coordinate its production and promotion and participated in reviewing and finalizing the memoir. Junior staffers were asked to perform book-related tasks as part of their regular work.

n Second, Cuomo and his administration knowingly withheld public COVID data of fatalities in congregate facilities, according to the report. Attorneys did not find evidence that undermine the state Health Department’s July 6, 2020, self-published report titled “Factors Associated with Nursing Home Infections and Fatalities in New York State during the COVID-19 Global Health Crisis,” which concluded the virus was introduced in congregate care facilities via infected staff in the early days of the pandemic.

n Third, the Assembly report released Monday morning confirmed state Attorney General Letitia James’s Aug. 3 report that Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment and misconduct with at least 11 women, including nine current and former state staffers and created a hostile work environment.

Cuomo’s staunch denial of wrongdoing — and his counsel’s insistence the investigations were flawed and politically motivated — has not changed, regardless of the attorneys’ conclusions and release of the new evidence. He doesn’t remember things the same way, there were misunderstandings and, of course, obfuscation under an Assembly grilling. Now, though, the allegations have been corroborated through an extensive five-month investigation involving reviews of more than 600,000 pages of documents, testimonial transcripts and re-reviews of testimony by hundreds of witnesses.

Whatever the degree of misconduct can be leveled at the former governor, the bigger scandal is in Cuomo’s stubborn unwillingness to make amends, pay restitution or even apologize to the people he has wronged.

When a man stripped of power and privilege values petulance and a defiant attitude, it becomes more difficult to figure out an appropriate form of justice. For Cuomo, it looks to be a new ice age.

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