New York’s attorney general on Monday named two independent lawyers to lead the investigation into multiple sexual harassment allegations made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), saying the pair would help “provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
Attorney General Letitia James tapped Joon Kim, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne Clark, an employment discrimination lawyer, amid growing allegations that Cuomo acted inappropriately. As of Sunday, five women had come forward with such claims.
“We are committed to an independent and thorough investigation of the facts,” James said in a statement. “Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark are independent, legal experts who have decades of experience conducting investigations and fighting to uphold the rule of law.”
She added: “There is no question that they both have the knowledge and background necessary to lead this investigation and provide New Yorkers with the answers they deserve.”
After a tussle between James and Cuomo — who sought to exert influence over who would investigate him before widespread outrage forced him to backtrack — the attorneys will be armed with subpoena power, which will allow them to request documents and call witnesses to testify under oath.
The attorneys’ appointment is effective immediately. The New York Times reports that they will be required to brief James weekly and publish a public report once the investigation is complete, which could take months.
“I’m not going to resign because of allegations,” he told reporters on Sunday. “The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic.”
But state politicians have grown more frustrated in recent days as more accusations come up. On Sunday, the top Democrat in the New York state Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said the state needed to “govern without daily distraction” and said she believed Cuomo should step aside “for the good of the state.” New York Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, also a Democrat, echoed those concerns later that day.
Cuomo is also facing a separate political maelstrom over his handling of nursing home fatality data during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.