Chris Cuomo Breaks Silence on Brother’s Alleged Harassment: ‘Obviously I Cannot Cover It’

CNN’s Chris Cuomo at a Democratic town hall in Los Angeles, Calif., October 10, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Monday publicly addressed the mounting sexual misconduct allegations against his brother, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, saying that he “obviously” can’t cover the numerous accusations and resulting political backlash because they are family-related.

“Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it,” Cuomo said on his primetime show. “They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so. I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so. There’s a lot of news going on that matters also, so let’s get after that.”

Ahead of Cuomo’s show, the New York Times reported that the governor had placed his hand on the bare lower back of a woman during a wedding reception in 2019, called her “aggressive” for pushing his hand away, and then grabbed her cheeks and asked to kiss her. A photo obtained by the Times shows the governor with his hands around the young woman’s face. This is the third allegation of sexual harassment leveled against Cuomo in the past week, but the first brought by someone who didn’t work in Cuomo’s office.

Two of Cuomo’s former aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, said the governor made passes at them while at work. Boylan alleged that the governor kissed her on the lips without consent during a meeting, while Bennett said Cuomo asked intrusive questions of a sexual nature, including whether she would be open to sleeping with older men. In response, Cuomo issued an apology in which he suggested his attempts at humor may “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation”

New York attorney general Letitia James announced Monday that her office would open an independent investigation after the governor’s office granted a referral.

“We need a full investigation,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday evening. “If it proves that these allegations are true—how can someone lead a state if they’ve done these kinds of things?”

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the younger Cuomo had no problem covering the governor — conducting eleven one-on-one interviews in which the CNN host called his older brother “the Luv Guv,” and asked him “do you think you are an attractive person now because you’re single and ready to mingle?” The younger Cuomo also admitted that he would “never be objective” and said he thought his brother was “the best politician in the country.”

CNN recently explained in a statement to the Washington Post that Cuomo had been barred from interviewing or otherwise covering his brother since 2013, but that a temporary “exception” had been made due to the “extraordinary” circumstances surrounding the pandemic.

“The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time. We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest,” the statement read. “As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today. CNN has covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively.”

In September, Tucker Carlson aired a recording of Chris Cuomo and former lawyer for President Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, in which Cuomo suggested that he himself had faced questions about sexual harassment from reporters in the past.

“I’m always careful when I talk to media,” Cuomo apparently says in the clip. “Do you know how many f***ing phone calls I’ve gotten from people at ABC that reporters are calling and lying about things they heard about me to try and get stories about me from when I was at ABC? They’re calling and saying, ‘I heard he was the Charlie Rose of ABC, that he used to invite women to the hotel and open his bathrobe.’ Do I look like the kind of f***ing guy whose gotta do that?”

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