Time's Up Co-Founders Helped Cuomo Draft 'Victim-Shaming' Letter Smearing His Accuser: AG Report
05:40 GMT 05.08.2021 (Updated: 08:14 GMT 05.08.2021)
The district attorney's offices of Westchester County, Manhattan, Albany, and Nassau County have announced they are formally seeking evidence from the New York Attorney General's report to determine whether NY Governor Andrew Cuomo (D)'s alleged sexual harassment against several women amounts to criminal charges in the respective districts.
Andrew Cuomo's office received help in its effort to smear one of the New York Governor’s first sexual abus
e accusers, the state attorney general’s bombshell report revealed on Tuesday.
Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchen, two women who helped found the anti-harassment advocacy group Time’s Up, formed as the #MeToo
Movement was gaining traction, had been enlisted to work on a letter that effectively "impugned her credibility," says the 165-page investigative report.
The Democratic governor and his advisers had drafted the letter in December 2020 in response to allegations by former aide Lindsey Boylan. The aide described several years of uncomfortable interactions with Cuomo, who allegedly sexually harassed her and created a toxic work environment.
According to Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide, the governor had first drafted the letter by hand – a fact that the governor denied.
DeRosa testified that Cuomo instructed her to enlist further help on the letter from attorney Roberta Kaplan, who co-founded the Time’s Up legal defense fund with CEO Tina Tchen.
"The letter denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, impugned her credibility, and attacked her claims as politically motivated (including with theories about connections with supporters of President Trump and a politician with an alleged interest in running for Governor)," stated the report penned by independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).
The report said further testimony from DeRosa suggested that Kaplan and Tchen thought that “the letter was fine” without the statements about “Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues”.
"Ms. DeRosa reported back to the Governor that Ms. Kaplan and the head of Times Up thought the letter was okay with some changes, as did [Cuomo ally Steve] Cohen, but everyone else thought it was a bad idea."
Governor Cuomo's team of advisers failed to convince people to sign the letter, which several found to be “victim-shaming” and amounting to retaliation against Boylan, added the report. Accordingly, the letter was never made public.
In his testimony, Andrew Cuomo, who has insisted he simply participated in the drafting process of the aforementioned letter, likened himself to Abraham Lincoln. He referred to the described manner in which the 16th president of the United States would put pen to paper in response to an article that he riled at, only to then throw it out.
“…Like Lincoln, the writing process was cathartic” for Cuomo, said the report.
A spokesperson for Time’s Up offered an official comment on the developments in a statement
to The Hollywood Reporter, saying that the group had been working with the governor’s office to pass the Time’s Up/NY Safety Agenda in December 2020, before any allegations had been levelled at Cuomo.
Tina Chen was then approached to offer “her perspective on a public response to Ms. Boylan’s allegations."
"Although Tina made no recommendations as to what he should do… she was clear that any response coming from the Governor’s office addressing the allegations would be insufficient and unacceptable if it did not acknowledge the experiences of the women who came forward, and that it should in no way shame or discredit the women," said Time’s Up.
Embattled NY Governor
Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo battles mounting pressure to resign in the wake of the state attorney general’s office report that determined he had sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former state employees, from 2013 to 2020 in violation of state and federal law. Abuse claims ranged from accusations of inappropriate comments on sex and dating to nonconsensual groping.
Investigators for the AG’s probe said the accusations against Andrew Cuomo were heavily corroborated, as they spoke to 179 people and reviewed more than 74,000 pages of documents in the course of their investigation.
A day after the release of the bombshell document, prosecutors in Manhattan and Albany have already opened criminal investigations, with prosecutors in Westchester and Nassau Counties also seeking investigative materials from the attorney general’s office.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares said his office is looking into the allegations against Cuomo for possible criminal charges
"I think after today’s presentation … it’s pretty clear that we have an obligation here, and thus we’ve reached out to the attorney general’s office seeking all of the evidence upon which they uncovered and relied upon to author their report," Soares told NBC's "Nightly News."
A lawyer for the New York Governor branded the report “unfair,” “inaccurate” and “utterly biased.”
While a mounting chorus of voices, including President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York’s U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and other onetime Democratic allies, have called for the embattled governor to resign, a defiant Cuomo
reiterated his denial of any wrongdoing in a videotaped address on Tuesday. He stated that “the facts are much different than what has been portrayed” and that he “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”