'That Was Litigated': Psaki Grilled on Sexual Harassment Claims Against Biden Amid Andrew Cuomo Row
06:15 GMT 05.08.2021 (Updated: 06:23 GMT 05.08.2021)
© AFP 2021 / CHIP SOMODEVILLAWhite House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions from reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on 8 June 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki announced actions the Biden administration says it will take to strengthen critical American supply chains and "promote economic security, national security, and good-paying, union jobs here at home".
A months-long investigation into allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo - sanctioned by New York State Attorney General Letitia James - concluded that he harassed multiple women, including younger colleagues. The New York governor is adamant that he's innocent and has refused to step down despite calls from fellow Democrats to do so.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled during a regular briefing on whether an independent investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against President Joe Biden was worthwhile in light of his calls on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down following a harassment probe.
"Should there be an independent investigation of the allegations into the president as there was into Governor Cuomo?" New York Post reporter Steve Nelson asked Psaki, recalling a number of allegations levelled against Biden during the 2020 election campaign, including claims made by Tara Reade. Reade alleged that in 1993, Biden sexually assaulted her, something which the president has denied.
Nelson also mentioned accusations from Secret Service agents that Biden had skinny dipped in front of them, and cited New York Times and Washington Post reporting on women "who objected to the way President Biden touched them".
The White House spokeswoman fended off the question, saying that the 46th has been outspoken about the importance of women being heard and respected, and claiming that those allegations were "heavily litigated" during the election campaign.
"The president has been clear and outspoken about the importance of women being respected and having their voices heard and being allowed to tell their stories and people treating them with respect," Psaki said.
"That was heavily litigated during the campaign," Psaki added "I understand you’re eager to come back to it, but I don’t have anything further other than to repeat that he has called for the governor to resign."
At the same time, Psaki said that President Joe Biden believes that Cuomo should step down amid sexual harassment allegations.
"The president made clear yesterday that governor Cuomo should resign," Psaki said. "The president believes that Governor Cuomo should do the right thing - resign - and leave space for future leadership in New York."
After accusations of sexual harassment, Andrew Cuomo tried to excuse hugging and kissing female staff by pointing at photos where Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and his own father were doing the same.
The investigation into sexual abuse allegations against Cuomo - sanctioned by New York State Attorney General Letitia James - concluded on Tuesday that he harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal law. The investigation also revealed that Cuomo and a senior aide had attempted to retaliate against the victims.
Cuomo insists that he is innocent and refuses to resign despite repeated calls from his colleagues.