‘It was a crime’: Cuomo accuser Brittany Commisso who was referred to as ‘Executive Assistant One’ in the attorney general’s report and filed a criminal complaint over groping speaks publicly for first time
- Brittany Commisso is one of 11 women Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing
- She filed a criminal complaint against the New York governor last week
- She accuses him of groping her in the Governor’s Mansion in Albany
- The incident took place in November 2020, when he summoned her for help with his cell phone
- He also allegedly rubbed her butt while taking a selfie with him on New Year’s Eve in 2019, leaving her shaking with fear
- Cuomo refuses to resign despite Biden’s condemnation and likely impeachment
A former assistant who accused Andrew Cuomo of groping her in the Executive Mansion has said he ‘needs to be held accountable,’ saying he committed a crime.
Brittany Commisso is one of 11 women Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing, according to an investigative report released by the state attorney general’s office last week.
Cuomo has thus far resisted widespread calls for his resignation, including from fellow Democrats such as President Joe Biden, but he could soon face impeachment and removal from office by state lawmakers.
Commisso, identified only as ‘executive assistant #1’ in the report, told state investigators that Cuomo fondled her breast on one occasion, the most serious allegation the governor faces.
She also said he rubbed her backside while taking a photo.
Brittany Commisso has spoken publicly for the first time about her allegations against Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York
Governor Cuomo has not been seen in public since the attorney general’s report was published on Tuesday. He is pictured on a walk around the grounds of the Executive Mansion on Saturday
The report included photos of Cuomo with women – some whose faces were muzzed, some whose weren’t – as proof of how tactile he is. The above image shows Cuomo with Commisso
Last week, she filed a criminal complaint with the Albany sheriff’s office.
The sheriff, Craig Apple, told reporters on Saturday his agency and the county district attorney’s office would conduct a thorough investigation before determining whether a criminal charge is supported.
In an interview with CBS News and the Albany Times-Union that is scheduled to air on Monday morning, Commisso said she filed the report to hold Cuomo responsible for his actions.
Cuomo has not been seen since Monday. On Tuesday, he released a pre-taped response to the report (above)
‘What he did to me was a crime,’ she said in an excerpt released by CBS on Sunday.
‘He broke the law.’
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, though he has acknowledged that his efforts to be affectionate with people he encounters may have made some people uncomfortable.
His lawyer, Rita Glavin, told reporters on Friday that Commisso’s account was fabricated, citing emails and other documentary evidence she said undermines her story.
Cuomo is accused of groping Commisso an event last November after routinely engaging in a pattern of impropriate conduct that began in late 2019.
The report says Cuomo repeatedly sexually harassed Commisso when she worked for him by subjecting her to ‘close and intimate hugs’, ‘kisses on the cheeks and forehead’, ‘at least one kiss on the lips’ and ‘touching her butt’.
Commisso first experienced harassment from Cuomo in late 2019, which escalated to him allegedly groping her in November 2020 – the most serious allegation from all 11 women
Commisso is seen with Cuomo at an event. She appeared on CBS’s show for an interview that will air on Monday
Brittany Commisso is pictured with her husband Frank, who ran for mayor of Albany in 2017
He allegedly referred to her and one other assistant as ‘mingle mamas’ and asked her repeatedly if she would ever cheat on her husband.
On December 31, 2019, Cuomo asked her to take a selfies of them as they worked together inside his office at the Executive Mansion.
As she held up the camera, Cuomo ‘moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it’ for at least five seconds, the report alleges.
Brittany Commisso spoke out for the first time in an interview which will air on Monday
Commisso ‘was shaking so much during this interaction’ that the photos came out blurry — and Cuomo suggested the two sit down to take one more, the document says.
That photo, showing Cuomo smirking while he sits back on a couch with Commisso, is included in the report.
The governor then allegedly told her to send the snap to another aide, Alyssa McGrath – who has also accused Cuomo of sexual harassment – and said ‘not to share the photograph with anyone else.’
Commisso said she didn’t report what happened because she was terrified.
‘[T]he way he was so firm with [me] that I couldn’t show anyone else that photo, I was just terrified that if I shared what was going on that it would somehow get around,’ she told investigators.
Cuomo admitted that he and Commisso took a photo together, but said it was her idea, because ‘he does not like to take selfies.’
In November 2020, he allegedly groped her breast at the Executive Mansion in Albany.
‘For over three months, Executive Assistant #1 kept this groping incident to herself and planned to take it ‘to the grave,’ but found herself becoming emotional (in a way that was visible to her colleagues in the Executive Chamber) while watching the Governor state, at a press conference on March 3, 2021, that he had never ‘touched anyone inappropriately.’
She then confided in certain of her colleagues, who in turn reported her allegations to senior staff in the Executive Chamber, the report says.
Cuomo, in a defiant address after the report was published, presented a montage of photos of him being tactile with people such as Bill Clinton, his mother and Robert De Niro. He used the photo show to claim he was never abusive, but merely someone who frequently hugged and touched people
Cuomo, who served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration, is seen above planting a kiss on the cheek of former Vice President Al Gore
Cuomo’s montage included another image of him planting a kiss on his mother’s forehead
Cuomo included a photo above showing the governor grabbing a young boy’s face
Commisso was summoned to the mansion under the pretext of having to assist Cuomo with a technical issue involving his phone, the Times Union reported in March.
The two were alone together on the second floor of the residence when Cuomo allegedly closed the door, reached under her blouse and began to fondle her.
‘You’re going to get us in trouble,’ the woman said she told Cuomo, who replied, ‘I don’t care,’ according to the report.
His demeanor ‘wasn’t like ‘ha ha,’ it was like, ‘I don’t care.’ . . . It was like in this – at that moment he was sexually driven. I could tell and the way he said it, I could tell,’ the woman testified.
The governor then ‘slid his hand up her blouse, and grabbed her breast, cupping her breast over her bra,’ the report alleges.
A source familiar with the incident told the newspaper that Commisso had asked Cuomo to stop.
This was allegedly the only time he touched her; all other instances involved flirtatious behavior.
On Thursday actress Rose McGowan attacked Time’s Up CEO Tina Tchen for helping Cuomo draft a letter dismissing claims of one of his former staff members who accused him of sexual harassment.
The 47-year-old actress and activist called out Tchen in a statement posted to Twitter
Tchen denied her alleged involvement on Twitter, saying ‘I have never given advice to the Governor or his team’
The 47-year-old actress and advocate for sexual harassment and abuse victims criticized Tchen after James’ report claimed she allegedly provided guidance drafting a letter released by the governor’s advisors.
The letter denied the legitimacy of former aide Lindsey Boylan’s accusation against Cuomo.
The report said that Roberta Kaplan, who co-founded Time’s Up, conferred with Tchen at the request of Cuomo’s senior aide, Melissa DeRosa, about the appropriateness of the letter Cuomo’s aides were preparing to release.
‘According to Ms. DeRosa, Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the advocacy group Times Up (Tchen), and both of them allegedly suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was fine,’ James said in her report.
But Tchen denied her involvement on Twitter, saying: ‘I have never given advice to the Governor or his team.’
She said: ‘I had a phone call with Robbie Kaplan about a letter she said was being sent by his staffers during which I gave the same advice I give to everyone else: No survivor should be attacked and the truth should be told.
‘I’m furious that the Governor’s office used me and TIME’S UP as a justification for their defense.
‘TIME’S UP is an organization that has always centered survivors while holding those committing harm accountable.
‘Any characterization of us to the contrary is simply not true,’ Tchen added.
What next for Andrew Cuomo?
It looks like checkmate for Andrew Cuomo as pressure grows on him to step down despite his desperate attempts to cling on to power.
Senior Democrats including President Joe Biden are pushing for Cuomo to resign, with some looking to impeach the embattled politician.
New York state assembly speaker Carl Heastie, who launched an impeachment inquiry in March, said Cuomo has ‘lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority’ and ‘can no longer remain in office’, according to CNN.
If Cuomo tries to cling on to power rather than step down, he will likely face an impeachment probe.
Impeachment would be carried out by the New York state assembly which is made up of 150 lawmakers.
Only a majority of votes is needed for impeachment for ‘misconduct of malversation’, according to the state constitution.
The assembly’s makeup is overwhelmingly Democrat, with 106 out of 150 seats, and a majority of 76 votes needed for impeachment.
If impeached, Cuomo would be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
A trial would then be held by the New York senate where Democrats hold 43 of 63 seats and a two-thirds majority is needed to convict.
If convicted, Cuomo would be removed from office, but if he is found not guilty, he could return to being governor.
An impeachment probe launched in March is still ongoing and lawmakers are meeting to decide whether to proceed or draft articles in other areas of Cuomo’s leadership relating to the nursing homes Covid scandal, cover-up allegations over the Mario Cuomo Bridge, and claims of using state resources for personal gain.
So far, Cuomo has insisted he has done nothing wrong and has made no moves to step down as he tries to cling on to power.
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