Cuomo advisers allege timing of sex crime complaint meant to boost AG Letitia James' governor bid

The fall of Andrew Cuomo: From possible 2020 presidential candidate to sex charge

Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle reports on the latest.

Andrew Cuomo’s advisers slammed the filing of a misdemeanor forcible touching complaint against the disgraced ex-governor on Friday, decrying the move as a politically motivated effort to boost New York State Attorney General Letitia James’ recently announced gubernatorial bid.

James announced her intention to run for New York’s highest office one day after Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple filed the criminal complaint against Cuomo. Cuomo, who resigned in August, is accused of groping former executive assistant Brittany Commisso.

Cuomo’s attorney, Rita Glavin, maintained her client’s innocence and referred to the allegation detailed in the sheriff’s complaint as “totally uncorroborated.” 

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 12: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on June 12, 2020 in New York City. 
(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

“The timing of this charge, on the eve of Tish James announcing her run for Governor, is highly suspect and should give all of us pause that the heavy hand of politics is behind this decision,” Glavin said in a statement.

“We expect clear-headed people will make better decisions going forward, but should this case move forward we are prepared to vigorously defend the Governor and challenge every aspect of the specious, inconsistent and uncorroborated allegations made against him,” she added.

James’ office oversaw the independent investigation that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women, including current and former state employees, during his time as governor. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing.

James lauded Apple’s decision, releasing a statement that said the “criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James addresses a news conference at her office, in New York, Friday, May 21, 2021. James said Friday that an ongoing investigation surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo will "conclude when it concludes," and said she has ignored criticism from his top aide that the probe is politically motivated. 
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Rich Azzopardi, a longtime spokesman for Cuomo, ripped the criminal complaint and questioned Apple’s decision to file the charge without consulting with state prosecutors at the Albany County District Attorney’s Office or the accuser.

“In August Craig Apple publicly credited Tish James’ report as evidence to pronounce the Governor guilty of an allegation he had not yet investigated,” Azzopardi said. “Now, as she prepares to announce her Gubernatorial run, Tish James returned the favor, using Sherif Apple’s conveniently timed move to validate her sham report — here politics is validating politics, what’s missing is facts and the law.

“In an unprecedented move, Craig Apple ‘erroneously’ filed misdemeanor charges against Former Governor Cuomo without notification or authorization of the District Attorney or the complainant,” Azzopardi added. “It seemed the only person who was notified, and had a statement ready to go, was Tish James. New Yorker’s aren’t stupid and none of this passes the laugh test. This isn’t the wild west: the abuse of power and misconduct demonstrated by this Cowboy Sheriff and AG James is transparent and it has to stop.”

James did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Cuomo advisers’ claims.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in New York.  Cuomo’s campaign contributors say they’re still planning to donate money for his re-election, despite ongoing investigations into allegations that he sexually harassed employees and manipulated data on COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Apple defended his decision to file the complaint without consultation, telling reporters he was “very confident” the county district attorney would prosecute the case. Cuomo is due to be arraigned on Nov. 17.

Commisso’s attorney, Brian Premo, said she was surprised by the filing, but would cooperate with the case.

“It was my client’s understanding that the district attorney’s office was going to basically lead a thorough and apolitical investigation into the matter and then discuss all the issues with my client, and then my client would give her informed consent,” Premo said in an interview with Albany-area radio station WGDJ-AM, according to the New York Times.

“It was our understanding that the sheriff was in agreement with that process, so she was just surprised by how it came about and what had occurred,” he added.

Commisso could not be reached for comment.

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