White House press secretary Jen Psaki took to social media Tuesday to clarify remarks made by President Joe Biden following New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in the face of criminal sexual harassment allegations.
At a press conference following Cuomo’s announcement that he was stepping down, Biden told reporters he felt that Cuomo had done “a hell of a job” despite the findings from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office that the governor had committed at least 11 separate acts of illegal sexual harassment.
“You’re someone who spends a lot of time with mayors and governors. How would you assess his 10 and a half years as governor of the state?” CBS News senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe asked Biden Tuesday afternoon.
“In terms of his personal behavior or what he’s done as a governor?” the president responded.
“What he’s done as a governor,” replied O’Keefe.
“Well, he’s done a hell of a job,” Biden answered. “Both on everything from access to voting to infrastructure, to a whole range of things. That’s why it’s so sad.”
Psaki tried to claim that Biden was only talking about “infrastructure” when it came to the president’s praising.
“@potus responded to a specific question today about @NYGovCuomo work on infrastructure. He also made clear it was right for @NYGovCuomo to step down, reiterated his support for women who come forward, and made clear you can’t separate personal behavior from other work,” she wrote on Twitter.
@potus responded to a specific question today about @NYGovCuomo work on infrastructure. He also made clear it was right for @NYGovCuomo to step down, reiterated his support for women who come forward, and made clear you can’t separate personal behavior from other work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) August 10, 2021
CNN White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins also pressed Biden for reaction to Cuomo’s stepping down, which the president testily responded to.
Kaitlan Collins: "Can you really say [Cuomo] has done 'a hell of a job' if he's accused of sexually harassing women on the job?" pic.twitter.com/TB9gaaFcD3
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 10, 2021
Earlier this month, James said an investigation found that Cuomo not only sexually harassed several women but also took retaliatory measures against them when they attempted to speak out.
“Our work is concluded and the document is now public,” James said during a press conference in which she also announced her office would not be pursuing any criminal charges though she said specifically Cuomo violated both federal and state laws.
“We were tasked with the responsibility of engaging in an investigation. And we have concluded our investigation. And our work is done,” she noted further. “And so as it relates to next steps, that’s entirely up to the governor and or the assembly and the general public. But the work of the office of the Attorney General and these special deputies has concluded.”
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually arrested multiple women and violated federal and state law,” James added. “The investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
During his Tuesday evening broadcast, Fox News host Tucker cast aspersions at James and the timing of the allegations against Cuomo and her subsequent investigation of him after he has been in office for more than 10 years and allegedly had a well-known reputation for being sexually permissive.
“[Cuomo] killed all those old people in nursing homes. I haven’t heard a word about that. They don’t matter, but someone sat in his lap and that’s the crime? How distorted is our moral scale?” he asked before suggesting that James’ investigation was motivated by her desire to run for governor.
“Now, James does not hide her own political ambitions because you no longer have to, nobody cares. Earlier this year, she said that AG — you thought it meant attorney general — actually, she said it stands for aspiring governor, which she is,” he said.
“Even before she was elected to her current office which she has misused from day one, James vowed to start a political investigation into Donald Trump’s businesses in New York. Not because she had specific evidence that he had broken the law — she didn’t. She didn’t claim she did, but because she didn’t like him and she since followed through on that promise,” Carlson added. “Is that the kind of justice you want? So there are reasons to question Letitia James’ motives, to put it mildly.”
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