Brittany Commisso, a former executive assistant to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said in an exclusive interview with CBS This Morning and the Albany Times Union that the governor harassed her on several occasions, including groping her breasts and buttocks.
Listed as “Executive Assistant #1” in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report into the investigation of the sexual assault allegations against Cuomo, Commisso said he requested her presence often. He would seek her advice on speechwriting and she took it as a sign of professional respect, Commisso said in the CBS interview that aired Monday morning. Cuomo’s touching began with hugs, but they became more sexual over time.
“These were not hugs he would give his mother or his brother,” she said. “Then, they would start to be hugs with kisses on the cheek. And there was that one point, a hug, and then when he went to go kiss me on the cheek, he quickly turned his head and he kissed me on the lips.”
Commisso, now 33, alleges that the governor groped her for the first time on December 31, 2019. She was at the governor’s mansion to help him with his State of the State address. After completing the first run of the speech, she said Cuomo asked that they take a selfie.
“He was to my left. I was on the right. With my right hand, I took the selfie,” she said. “I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it. Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over, rubbing my butt.”
The second groping incident allegedly took place in November 2020 during which Cuomo hugged her in a “sexually aggressive manner.”
Here is more, per CBS This Morning:
“It was then that I said, you know, governor, you know, you’re — my words were ‘you’re going to get us in trouble.’ And I thought to myself, that probably wasn’t the best thing to say,” Commisso said.
Commisso claims she was afraid a staffer might walk in and get the wrong idea, but that after she said that, Cuomo “shut the door so hard to the point where I thought for sure, someone downstairs must think if they heard that, ‘what is going on?’”
It was then that Commisso claims the governor groped her a second time.
“He came back to me and that’s when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra,” she said. “I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself, ‘Oh, my God. This is happening.’”
“It happened so quick, he didn’t say anything. When I stopped it, he just pulled away and walked away.”
Commisso described Cuomo’s behavior that night as “almost as if he was in a sexually aggressive state of mind. I really don’t know how to explain the moment. It was, it was – I don’t have the words. I don’t have the words.”
Cuomo has denied the allegations.
James’ spokesman, Fabien Levy, confirmed that the woman who filed the complaint against Cuomo last week in Albany County is identified in James’s report as “Executive Assistant #1.” We know from the CBS report that Commisso is that assistant.
“It was the right thing to do. The governor needs to be held accountable,” she said when asked during the CBS interview why she filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo.
It doesn’t seem like he has much time left in office. New York state politics experts argued earlier in the year that the governor could ride out the controversies, but that doesn’t seem realistic at this point. His top people are leaving him, including his most senior aide, Melissa DeRosa.
James’ report and reporting on DeRosa do not paint her in a positive light, per the New York Daily News:
DeRosa is mentioned as many times as the governor in the damning report released last week by Attorney General Letitia James detailing sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo made by 11 women, mostly much younger staffers.
Investigators working for James’ office found DeRosa spearheaded the effort to discredit Lindsey Boylan, the first woman to go public with misconduct claims against the the governor.
DeRosa circulated an unpublished op-ed filled with “personal and professional attacks” on Boylan among current and former staffers. She also tried to squash a news story about the trooper accusing the governor of misconduct being fast-tracked onto his protective unit.
The report also describes DeRosa as having helped cultivate a “toxic” workplace for young female staffers in the State Capitol.
In the report, DeRosa and chief of staff Jill DesRosiers both said the governor tended to refer to them and other top women staffers as the “mean girls,” a moniker they were not fond of.
Cuomo denied using the term.
New York state lawmakers are finalizing the details around an inevitable impeachment of Cuomo; they are meeting today, in fact, to discuss the details. Around two-thirds of the state assembly believe he should resign; only a simple majority is needed to OK impeachment.
Cuomo is pretty much done and this interview with Commisso certainly didn’t help slow that eventuality.