New York Times: Andrew Cuomo questioned for 11 hours by New York attorney general's office in sexual harassment inquiry

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during an event at his office on March 18, 2021, in New York City.

By Paul LeBlanc and Rob Frehse, CNN

(CNN) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was questioned by investigators in the state attorney general's office for 11 hours last month as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment allegations against him, The New York Times reported Monday.

The meeting -- which took place in Cuomo's Manhattan office on July 17 -- saw the Democratic governor field questions under oath about his treatment of women by the attorney general's lead investigators, Joon H. Kim and Anne L. Clark, five people briefed on the meeting told the Times.

The interview prompted a number of tense moments, the newspaper reported, with Cuomo challenging Kim's fairness and independence after past investigations into the governor and his allies.

A former federal prosecutor, Kim ran the high-powered US attorney's office in New York's Southern District during parts of 2017 and 2018, including during its prosecution of one of Cuomo's top aides and close friends, Joseph Percoco, who was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted on corruption charges.

CNN has reached out to Cuomo's office for comment.

Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, told CNN in a statement Monday, "This investigation started at the request of the governor after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. It is being carried out by independent investigators who have decades of experience."

"The continued attempts to undermine and politicize this process are dishonest and take away from the bravery displayed by these women," the statement said.

The interview with Cuomo signals that the investigation could be nearing its final stages, though no timeline has been established. Following multiple sexual harassment allegations against the Democratic governor earlier this year, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced an investigation that would result in a public report.

Members of Cuomo's inner circle have already been interviewed by investigators, the Times reported, including state troopers who are part of Cuomo's security detail.

The allegations against the governor include one that emerged in a February New York Times article. Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, told the newspaper that during one of several uncomfortable encounters, Cuomo asked her questions about her sex life during a conversation in his state Capitol office and said he was open to relationships with women in their 20s.

She interpreted the exchange -- which she said took place in June 2020, while the state was in the throes of fighting the pandemic -- as what the newspaper called "clear overtures to a sexual relationship."

Another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, including an unwanted kiss. In a February Medium post, Boylan alleged that he kissed her on the lips following a one-on-one briefing in his New York City office in 2018.

Escalating backlash against Cuomo prompted him to release a statement at the time that acknowledged some of his comments in the workplace "may have been insensitive or too personal" and said he was "truly sorry" to those who might have "misinterpreted (the remarks) as an unwanted flirtation."

Cuomo has denied ever touching anyone inappropriately.

Beyond the investigation into the sexual harassment claims, James is also investigating nursing home deaths in New York and released a report in January that found that the state undercounted nursing home Covid-19-related deaths by about 50%.

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